KUALA LUMPUR: A company that owned the Vivekananda Ashrama is suing the National Heritage Department and three others over the designation of the property surrounding the 110-year-old building as heritage site.

The company named Vivekananda Ashrama Kuala Lumpur filed the judicial review action through law firm Messrs David Gurupatham & Koay, at the High Court Registry here on Oct 13.

The applicant seeks to set aside the July 15 decision of the Department and its Commissioner Dr Zainah Ibrahim – who was one of the four respondents – to designate Lot 33, Section 72, No. 220, Jalan Sambanthan, Brickfields here, as heritage site.

It seeks a court order to compel the Department and the Commissioner to reconsider its proposal that only the Vivekananda Ashrama building be designated as heritage site, so that it could develop the surrounding land.

The company seeks a court order to prevent the four respondents – who also included the Tourism and Culture Ministry and its minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz – from taking action against it in relation to the disputed designation of the said land pending disposal of the legal action, as well as unspecified monetary compensation.

The company also sought an alternative remedy of over RM60 million in damages over it being allegedly denied its fundamental right to develop the property as initially planned.

The company’s lawyer Datuk David Gurupatham said that his client filed the action to ensure it could develop the land in question to generate money to take care of the historical building, among others.

“The court fixed Nov 26 for clarification and possible decision(on whether to grant leave to the company to proceed with its judicial review),” said Gurupatham after the chamber matter before High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad.

Senior federal counsel Mazlifah Ayob appeared for the Department, Zainah, the Ministry and Nazri.

On Oct 28 at the Dewan Rakyat, Nazri revealed that the process of gazetting the Vivekananda Ashrama is underway.

NST