Activists lose constitutional challenge to assembly charge


Source: The Malay Mail Online

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

The activists’ lawyer Eric Paulsen says the court rejected the challenge based on a procedural requirement for the application to be first filed at the Sessions Court instead of the High Court. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — The Court of Appeal today struck out a constitutional challenge from four former student activists to set aside the charges against them for assembling in a public place.

A three-judge panel chaired by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif dismissed the application from Adam Adli Abd Halim, Muhammad Safwan Anang, Ekhsan Bukharee and Mohamed Bukhairy Mohamed Sofian who were appealing against being charged with taking part in an illegal in a restricted public place.

The foursome were charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) when they took part in a June 22, 2013 rally in the compound of Masjid Ar-Rahman Universiti Malaya, which is a restricted area.

Section 4(2)(b) of the PAA prohibits the public from organising or participating in an assembly held at any prohibited place and within 50m from the place’s limit.

If found guilty, they can be fined up to RM 10,000 each.

According to the activists’ lawyer, Eric Paulsen, the court rejected the challenge on a preliminary objection based on Section 30 of the Courts of Judicature Act (CJA) 1964, which is a procedural requirement for their application to be first filed at the Sessions Court instead of the High Court.

“We are to file at Sessions Court to refer to the High Court,” Paulsen told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Under Section 30 of the CJA, the High Court is empowered to decide on constitutional matters that the Sessions Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear. But the case can also be sent back to the Sessions Court for hearing to resume later.

Paulsen said he will consult his clients if they wished to pursue their challenge. If not, they will then face trial, which is scheduled to start on February 17.

* Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misstated the fine amount as RM20,000. Malay Mail Online apologises for the error which has been corrected.