Teacher dismissed for four-year absence due to water phobia fails to get leave to appeal

PUTRAJAYA, March 25 — A primary school teacher failed to obtain leave from the Federal Court to pursue his appeal to overturn a Court of Appeal decision which held that his dismissal for being absent for 1,535 days was valid.

The three-member bench comprising Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim and Federal Court judges Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang dismissed Yahaya Wahi’s application for leave to proceed with his appeal to the Federal Court.

Justice Abang Iskandar said Yahaya’s application for leave to appeal has failed to meet the threshold requirement of Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

“There is no novel point. No question of general public importance that needed to be further ventilated,” he said.

An applicant must obtain leave in order to proceed with the appeal to the Federal Court. He must also convince the Federal Court that the proposed appeal contains novel legal questions of public importance which are being raised for the first time and ought to be further ventilated by the court.

Yahaya, 44, was dismissed from the teaching service on August 9, 2019, and all his emoluments were stopped from August 6, 2019. The science and mathematics teacher failed to report himself at the school in Gerik, Perak on the said date, only appearing for work on April 3, 2013.

On December 16, 2012, he was transferred to SK RPS Kemar, which was located in the interior of Gerik. However, he failed to report for duty, and he reported for work only on April 3, 2013. Subsequently, he did not teach at the school until May 16, 2017.

This was after he discovered that he had to reach the school by boat across a lake. He has a phobia of water due to a near-drowning incident during his childhood, which was further compounded by witnessing the drowning death of his elder brother.

He received medical attention in a government hospital in Sungai Petani and was referred to its psychiatry department in 2015. He also gave his medical condition to school principal when the latter initiated disciplinary action against him in 2019.

In his four years of absence, he also tried to discuss his case with the authorities and requested another transfer, but it fell on deaf ears.

He filed a judicial review application in the Taiping High Court seeking to quash his dismissal and be reinstated as a teacher at any other school which was reachable via a land route.

He named former Education Service Commission chairman Tan Sri Khair Mohamad Yusof, Hulu Perak District Education Office, Perak Education Department, Education Ministry, and the government as respondents.

On July 31, last year, the High Court allowed Yahaya’s judicial review and granted a certiorari order to set aside the respondents’ decision to dismiss him from service. This decision was however, overturned by the Court of Appeal, which ruled that his termination from service was not illegal.

Lawyer Chan Kean Li appeared for Yahaya while senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly@Arwi appeared for the respondents. — Bernama




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