Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Land acquisition case - Jin Long Si Temple case
The case of Eng Foong Ho v Attorney-General was an interesting case involving the government acquisition of a temple which was near the Bartley Road MRT station. The challenge against this acquisition was not made on the basis of the compensation paid but rather on constitutional grounds.
The appellants in the appeal to the Court of Appeal were devotees at the above named temple. They were trying to challenge the acquisition using Article 12 of the Constitution which deals with equal protection before the law. Their main argument is that the temple was not treated equally with other religious buildings in the vicinity in that the latter buildings were not acquired by the government.
The High Court had dismissed the claim on various grounds including the fact that the appellants had lacked locus standi (legal standing, a concept used to prevent busybodies with no connection to a matter from starting lawsuits against the government or any other defendant).
The Court of Appeal reviewed the evidence which showed that there were important planning considerations for the acquisition of the temple but not the other buildings, such as the fact that the temple land touched the MRT station land and both could easily be amalgamated for higher development potential.
Although the appellants lost their case, the Attorney-General, representing the government was only entitled to half the legal costs incurred in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal as the government had lost on some issues. This was a departure from the normal rule that the loser pays the winner's legal costs - see for example, a previous posting on this blog -
Monday, January 19, 2009 :