PUTRAJAYA: A television personality wants the Court of Appeal to reinstate her RM5.5 million suit against a businessman over a breach of a promise to marry her.
Maria Tunku Sabri, TV3 host of Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan programme, had entered into an agreement with Datuk Wan Johani Wan Hussin on March 10, 2004, by which he would pay the sum to compensate for her suffering and loss of reputation following the breach of the promise.
In her statement of claim, Maria, 38, said the amount was payable in consideration that she would not take legal action against him.
Wan Johani, 54, in his defence, denied knowledge of the contract and in the alternative, pleaded that the agreement was illegal and had elements of threat and coercion.
He said Maria's suit should be dismissed on grounds that it was an abuse of court process.
Wan Johani filed an application on May 11, 2006 to strike out the suit on grounds that Maria's action was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the syariah court.
He said the contract was illegal because Maria was a married woman and this was against the Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act.
The law states that a woman whose marriage was still in subsistence could not be married to any other man.
The High Court deputy registrar allowed the application to be struck out in February last year. Maria's appeal against the application was upheld by the then judicial commissioner, Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, three months later.
She said Maria's claim under the settlement agreement which arose from Wan Johani's breach of promise to marry was intertwined with the issue of betrothal, a matter which came within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.
Maria then filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal to reinstate the suit.
Karpal Singh, who is appearing for Maria, yesterday submitted that Wan Johani did not plead in his defence that the civil court lacked jurisdiction.
"He only raised the jurisdiction issue in his affidavit. It is trite law that issue of importance must be pleaded."
He said the civil court had jurisdiction to hear the matter because the claim was founded upon breach of contract, and not breach of promise of marriage.
He said the suit should be restored as there were triable issues.
Wan Johani's counsel, Anthony Gomez, said an illegal contract and jurisdiction issue need not be pleaded because it touched on the crux of the subject matter.
"It has been raised in Wan Johani's affidavit and it was for the court to take notice in view of its importance."
Judge Datuk James Foong, who sat with Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong and Datuk Sulaiman Daud, said judgment would be delivered on a date to be fixed.