PUTRAJAYA: The Selangor government today suffered a setback in its on-going judicial review application against the Election Commission (EC) with regards to the redelineation exercise.
A three-man Court of Appeal bench chaired by Mohd Zawawi Salleh allowed the EC’s appeal that it was not required to provide to the state government the locality code and locality name used in the 1994 and 2003 exercise.
“We allow the EC’s appeal and set aside the High Court order,” he said.
The bench also dismissed the state’s appeal to cross examine EC Chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah.
“We dismiss the respondent’s (Selangor government) appeal and affirm the decision of the High Court,” Zawawi said in the packed court room.The bench, also consisting of justices Abdul Rahman Sebli and Kamardin Hashim, did not give reasons for its ruling.
Zawawi delivered the ruling soon after lawyers for the EC and the state government had completed their submissions.
Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali was present during the proceedings but left before the court delivered its decision.
State executive councillor Elizabeth Wong said she was disappointed and shocked by the ruling .
“We will discuss the next course of action with our lawyers,” said Wong who also informed reporters that Azmin left early because he had a prior official function to attend.
Wong said she was particularly taken aback when, for the first time, a government lawyer informed the bench today that the data sought by the state from the EC had been destroyed.
Government lawyer Amarjeet Singh, who is also the head of the civil division in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, said every government department did not keep records after seven years.
“The 1993 and 2004 electoral rolls information is not there by operation of law,” he said.
He said last year’s information would have been incorporated in this year’s electoral roll.
Alice Loke, who assisted Amarjeet, said the election law was silent on providing the information to the respondents.
“In fact, what they are asking from the EC is an indirect way of challenging the already gazetted electoral roll which is disallowed under Section 9A of the Election Act,” she said.
Lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan said the information was needed to verify the registration of 136, 372 voters in several state seats in Selangor.
She said the information was needed for the High Court to make a decision based on law and facts.
“The judge has been handling this case for several months and he knows what is needed for him to decide,” she said.
On March 9, Justice Azizul Azmi Adnan said the Selangor government’s application to cross-examine Hashim would be a fruitless exercise because he would not have the necessary information.
However, the judge allowed the state government’s application to provide information regarding the changes in locality of voters in the last two exercises – in 1993 and 2004.
The PKR-led Selangor government filed a 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.
It wants the court to quash the EC’s notice and direct it to publish a fresh notice on the proposed exercise.
The EC published an 18-page notice in major newspapers last September on the proposed redelineation in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.