PUTRAJAYA: The Election Commission (EC) can now conduct its local inquiries in Selangor, paving the way for the redrawing of electoral boundaries, after the Court of Appeal today set aside a stay order by the High Court 11 days ago.
The 2-1 majority decision was made by bench chairman Idrus Harun and Justice Yaacob Md Sam while Justice Rhodzariah Bujang held the status quo should remain to preserve the Selangor government’s appeal.
Idrus said the majority agreed with the arguments put forward by government lawyer Amarjeet Singh in lifting the interim stay as sought by the EC.
Midway through the proceedings, policemen had to clear the public and the media from following the case as a fire drill was being conducted.
However, the hearing went on uninterrupted.
In an immediate response, Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong said the ruling meant the EC could now proceed to carry out 111 inquiries in the state.
“The state government and voters came to the court because the EC’s proposals are in favour of the Barisan Nasional in the coming general election.
“We will continue to fight the EC for not following delineation guidelines established under the Federal Constitution,” she said.
Wong said Selangor was now in the same position as Sarawak in 2015 when the EC completed its inquiries and proceeded to submit its report to the prime minister for tabling in parliament.
She was referring to a May 2015 ruling by a High Court in Kuching which declared the EC’s notice of delineation as null and void as it was not in accordance to the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
However, after obtaining a stay, the EC completed its local inquiry.
Subsequently, the Court of Appeal held the appeal by PKR’s Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How and a voter Pauls Baya was academic as the EC had already submitted its report to the prime minister.
The court said it would not interfere in the affairs of the legislature since the report had been tabled and approved by parliament.
Earlier, Amarjeet told the Court of Appeal that the stay order impeded the EC from carrying out its constitutional duty which must be completed by September next year.
“There is also a risk that other voters in Selangor will also file for judicial reviews and thereby delay the EC from completing the exercise on time,” he said.
Lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan submitted that if the EC were allowed to conduct its inquiries, it would mean the integrity of the Selangor government’s appeal to challenge the decision of the High Court would not be preserved.
On Dec 7, High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan dismissed Selangor’s judicial review application to challenge the EC’s exercise in redrawing the electoral boundaries, largely due to a binding Court of Appeal ruling.
The judge, however, allowed Selangor’s interim stay application pending the outcome of its appeal in the Court of Appeal to maintain the status quo.
The PKR-led Selangor government filed the legal challenge in October last year, seeking to nullify the EC’s notice of redelineation, claiming it violated the Federal Constitution in drawing new electoral boundaries.