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Court dismisses Puchong MP’s suspension application

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 Oct 2009: The High Court (Appellate and Special Powers Division) here today dismissed Puchong Member of Parliament (MP) Gobind Singh Deo‘s application to lift his one-year suspension order imposed by the Dewan Rakyat earlier this year.

However, judge Mohd Ariff Md Yusof ruled that Gobind was entitled to his remuneration, including all his allowances and benefits as an MP.

The judge ordered Gobind to be paid interest of 8% on his allowances over the Dewan Rakyat’s decision to withhold his remuneration.

Mohd Ariff, in his decision, said under Article 64 of the Federal Constitution, an MP should be allowed his remuneration, and the house could not deprive the perks to which an elected representative was entitled.

On the issue of the plaintiff’s application to declare void his suspension from the Dewan Rakyat sittings effective 16 March, Mohd Ariff ruled that the High Court had no jurisdiction to challenge the motion passed by the Dewan Rakyat.

On 23 April, Gobind filed an originating summons at the High Court here, seeking a declaration that his one-year suspension as an MP effective 16 March was null and void as it violated Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.

He named the Dewan Rakyat speaker, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Dewan Rakyat Secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah, and the government as defendants.

Gobind, 36, is also seeking to declare that the letter, dated 18 March and signed by Roosme, suspending him as MP and stripping him of all allowances and benefits as an MP was null and void because it was unenforceable under the law.

He wanted a declaration that he was entitled to all those allowances and benefits under Article 64, and that the proceedings and decision of the Dewan Rakyat were not immune to adjudication by the court.

Mohd Ariff in his judgment said he concurred with the plaintiff’s counsel, Karpal Singh, that Gobind was merely suspended from the house, and not from his duties to serve his constituency.

However, he agreed with Senior Federal Counsel Azizah Nawawi that Gobind’s suspension by the Dewan Rakyat for contempt was not subject to judicial review.

Mohd Ariff also pointed out that he was bound by the Federal Court’s decision in Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir’s case.

But he said, in Zambry’s case, the contempt proceedings were initiated over the decision made by the state speaker V Sivakumar, which occurred outside the Perak state assembly building, compared with the contempt proceedings against Gobind, which were triggered by a statement uttered within the “four walls” of the Parliament house.

Gobind later told reporters that he respected the court’s decision. He added that what was more important was that even though he was still under suspension, he was able to serve his constituents.

“I challenged the Dewan Rakyat’s decision as some of the MPs are full-time politicians … if they are suspended and their remuneration withdrawn, then it would be difficult for them to serve their constituents,” he said.

Asked about the money, Gobind jokingly said he would pay his counsel first. Karpal, however, replied that he had taken the case “pro bono”.

Commenting on today’s decision, Karpal said it was a landmark decision, and it was a fair judgment as it did not mean whatever that happened in the house could not be reviewed or challenged by the court.

He said Gobind would not appeal against the decision, and added that it was not right for Parliament to withhold remuneration. — Bernama

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