After taking govt to court, KL's Crackhouse Comedy Club owners inch closer to flipping life ban

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Three months ago, the owners of Crackhouse Comedy Club filed for judicial review at the High Court to challenge Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) decision to revoke its licence and bar them from operating any business.

The ban followed a controversial stand-up routine at the club in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur last July.

Owners Rizal Van Geyzel and Shankar R. Santhiram will likely find out the hearing dates for their leave application after case management today.

In a judicial review application, leave or permission has to be gained for the full merits of the application to be heard to challenge a government authority’s decision.

This is to ensure the application is not frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of the court process.

Rizal and Shankar are represented by the firm Messrs Karpal Singh & Co.

Apart from DBKL, its incumbent mayor Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah, then deputy Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Jalaluddin Alias, the Federal Territories ministry (which has been abolished by the current administration) and the Malaysian government are respondents.

In the court papers sighted by Malay Mail, they want a declaration that the decision by DBKL and the mayor to terminate their business licence is in direct violation of the law, unreasonable, unwarranted, unconstitutional and invalid.

They also want the court to declare the decision by both Jalaluddin and the government to restrict them from registering any businesses indefinitely in KL even under a different name is in direct violation of the law, unreasonable, unwarranted, unconstitutional and invalid.

They also seek to have the court declare that the decision by all of the respondents was ultra vires (a legal term meaning going beyond) the Federal Constitution.

Lastly, they also seek a certiorari order to quash the aforementioned decision made by all the respondents and a declaration that the owners have the liberty under the Federal Constitution to have a legal trade in the Federal Territory of KL.

Aside from the declarations above sought, Rizal and Shankar are also seeking compensation in the form of general, compensatory, aggravated, and exemplary damages from the respondents.

Rizal also currently faces criminal charges for allegedly creating and initiating the distribution of videos that touch on racial sensitivity.

He has claimed trial.

On January 20, Rizal failed in his bid to get the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to drop the charges made against him following the latter’s rejection of his representation.

He had previously filed for representation on December 12 last year.

According to the three charges, Rizal was accused of making and initiating the transmission of offensive communications with intent to offend others via the Facebook application using the profile name ‘Rizal van Geyzel’, Instagram account "rizalvangeyzel" and TikTok account "rizalvangeyzel", between July 4 and 6, 2022.

The charges were framed under Section 233(1) (a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, punishable under Section 233 (3) of the same Act, which provides a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both, and a further fine of RM1,000 for every day that the offence is repeated after conviction, if convicted.

The case against Rizal and Crackhouse came after old videos of an open mic participant Siti Nuramira Abdullah performing in the venue was uploaded online.

Her bit was deemed offensive to Muslims and she was subsequently charged under the Penal Code.

DBKL then blacklisted the owners of the Crackhouse Comedy Club for life, and said they can also no longer obtain a business licence in Kuala Lumpur, even if they were to use a different company name or attempt to run a different business.

The move was criticised by lawyers polled by Malay Mail, who said it set a bad precedent that is tantamount to power abuse and infringing the right of life that is guaranteed to all, under the Federal Constitution.

Rizal was previously forced to lodge a police report over death threats against his family, in response to the stand-up comedy routines in the venue.