Federal Court rules in favour of villagers in trespass suit involving land in Gedong

Nikodemus (front, right) and other villagers in a photo with their counsel Dominique Ng (front, centre) at Kuching Court Complex on May 16, 2023.

KUCHING, May 17: The Federal Court in Kuching yesterday upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal and confirmed the Native Customary Rights (NCR) of Nikodemus Singai and a group of villagers over land parcels in Gedong, Simunjan.

The Federal Court bench led by Chief Judge of Malaya Dato Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah which also featured Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan and Dato Rhodzariah Bujang, heard the leave motion by the company involved yesterday and unanimously found that the company has not established any grounds to disturb the Court of Appeal’s findings.

The group represented by Nikodemus and villagers from several kampungs in Gedong were sued by the company Indranika Jaya Sdn Bhd in 2016 for trespassing over several parcels of land which were issued with provisional leases to the company. The provisional leases were subsequently converted to full leases of State land.

At the time of the trespass suit, the villagers had already successfully via another suit instituted in the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak established their right over the same parcels of land under NCR and were under the impression that they had the right to be on the land to prevent the company from using their land.

They then discovered they did not have ownership and were only entitled to claim for compensation.

It was only recently that they had successfully defended their right all the way to the Federal Court together with several other cases.

Nikodemus and other villagers were sued for trespassing and were found liable in the High Court. When the case reached the Court of Appeal, the justices ruled the villagers could not be trespassing their own NCR lands as such rights exist side by side with titles. — DayakDaily