State government tells lawyers to file application to obtain leave to challenge the Election Commission in the Federal Court, but the legal battle could be scuttled if BN recaptures Selangor.
PETALING JAYA: The Selangor government will file an appeal in the Federal Court to challenge the Election Commission’s (EC) exercise in redrawing electoral boundaries despite the possibility of the 14th general election (GE14) being held in a month or two.
Lawyer Latheefa Koya said the state had given the nod to file the legal papers to obtain leave to appeal in the Federal Court by the end of the month.
“We have been given the green light to file the leave application and will submit the legal questions in order for the apex court to grant approval to hear the merit of the case,” she told FMT.
Under Section 96 of the Court of Judicature Act 1964, applicants must frame novel legal or constitutional questions of public importance before the apex court can hear their complaints.
Last week, the PKR-led state government again failed in its legal challenge as the Court of Appeal ruled that the EC’s proposals could not be challenged in court by way of a judicial review.
“The proper forum is to go to the local inquiry to challenge the EC’s proposals,” said Justice Vernon Ong Lam Kiat who delivered the unanimous decision of the bench.
However, the bench declined to rule whether the state’s challenge was now academic, a day after the Dewan Rakyat approved the EC’s recommendations with 129 MPs from the ruling Barisan Nasional government voting for the motion and 80 from the opposition against it.
The EC’s proposed new voting boundaries and renaming of seats came into force on March 29 after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong gave his royal assent and after it was gazetted.
Selangor’s legal challenge will allow the Federal Court to revisit a similar case where a state assemblyman and a voter from Sarawak had taken the EC to court in 2015.
In that case, a High Court in Kuching declared the EC’s redelineation notice as null and void as it was not in accordance with 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 as the report had been tabled and approved by the Dewan Rakyat.
However, Selangor’s prolonged legal battle could also end if the Barisan Nasional wins the state government in the general election, as the new menteri besar and state executive council could decide not to pursue the leave application.
On Dec 7, Justice Azizul Azmi Adnan said his decision to dismiss Selangor’s case was partly due to two binding Court of Appeal rulings arising from the EC’s appeal against voters in Melaka and two MPs.
However, the judge acknowledged that the EC had failed to come up with rebuttal evidence on some contentious issues raised by the state.
Azizul dismissed all four grounds canvassed by the state. These were over alleged malapportionment and gerrymandering in most constituencies, the claim that the names of 136,000 voters were missing and that the EC had failed to use the latest electoral roll to conduct its exercise, and a lack of information in the notice before the boundary redrawing exercise was carried out.
The Selangor government filed the legal challenge in October 2016, seeking to nullify the EC’s notice of redelineation, claiming it violated the Federal Constitution in drawing new electoral boundaries.