Updated 7:17pm, 16 April 2009
PUTRAJAYA, 16 April 2009: The Putrajaya Federal Court today ruled that the suspension of Barisan Nasional (BN)-installed Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and his six state executive councillors by the Perak speaker V Sivakumar was null and void.
The apex court ruled that the speaker had no power to do so.
With the lifting of the suspension order against them, Zambry and the six state executive councillors can now attend the state assembly sittings, from which they were suspended on 18 Feb.
In a unanimous decision, the five-member panel led by Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff ruled that the suspension order of 18 months for Zambry and 12 months for the councillors made by Sivakumar was ultra virus the Perak state constitution and therefore, null and void.
Justice Alauddin also said that under Article 63 of the Perak Constitution, the court had the power to dispose of an originating summons filed by Zambry and the six councillors at the Ipoh High Court on 2 March with no order as to costs.
Alauddin, who sat with Chief Judge of Malaya Datuk Arifin Zakaria and Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman, Datuk S Augustine Paul and Datuk Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin, had adjourned the hearing for 45 minutes before coming to the decision.
Zambry and the six — Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin, Datuk Ramly Zahari, Hamidah Osman, Datuk Saarani Mohamad, Mohd Zahir Abdul Khalid and Dr Mah Hang Soon — brought the case to the Federal Court under Article 44 of the Perak state constitution to seek a declaration that the suspension meted out on them by Sivakumar was null and void.
They initially filed an originating summons at the Ipoh High Court, seeking a declaration that their suspension was null and void.
Outside the court, Zambry’s counsel, Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, described the decision as a landmark decision.
He said the speaker should not have issued the suspension order on Zambry as he was elected as a menteri besar by a proclamation of the Sultan Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah.
He said that with the decision, the two suits at the Ipoh Court against Sivakumar on the Perak Constitution had been disposed of — namely today’s case and the suit by the three Perak state assemblypersons, who quit their parties to become independents, which was disposed of by the Federal Court on 9 April.
Meanwhile, Zambry’s other counsel, Datuk Hafarizam Harun, said today’s decision meant that Zambry and the six state executive councillors could now attend the assembly sitting which was scheduled for 9 and 10 May.
When asked by the media whether the decision affected Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin’s suit against Zambry, which was fixed for hearing on 5 May, at Kuala Lumpur High Court, he said: “With this decision, I think Mohd Nizar should withdraw his suit against Zambry”.
He added that the Federal Court decision meant that Zambry was the rightful MB.
Meanwhile, Sivakumar’s counsel, Sulaiman Abdullah, said that the speaker had no intention to breach the law and his suspension order against Zambry and the six was right.
When asked what would happen in the next assembly sitting, Sulaiman said: “We just wait and see what will happen because the speaker is still in the sitting”.
He also said that in this case nobody had won or lost because during the assembly sitting, the speaker still had the power to conduct the proceedings.
Sulaiman added that he would take instruction from Sivakumar on whether to file for a review of the decision.
Meanwhile, Zambry has called on the opposition in Perak to accept the decision of the Federal Court today to lift the suspension order on him and six state executive councillors from attending state assembly sittings.
Speaking to reporters here, Zambry said the decision by the court would enable him and all executive councillors to carry out their duties with greater dedication for the people and state of Perak.
Zambry however was unable to say when the state assembly will convene.
He said it will convene within six months of the last sitting in November last year.
He did not discount the possibility that notice to the effect would be issued tomorrow or early next week.
The state assembly has to sit before 13 May and the speaker can ask for the consent of the Sultan of Perak to dissolve the assembly if it did not convene by that date.
In an immediate reaction, human rights group Aliran described the Federal Court ruling as being “terribly disappointing”.
The ruling has far-reaching consequences for the democratic principle which respects the separation of powers of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, Aliran president P Ramakrishnan said in a statement.
“The ruling has destroyed the notion that the separation of powers will be protected and preserved according to the rule of law by the judiciary.
“The Judiciary has once again failed the nation in upholding the rule of law in the interest of justice,” he added. — Bernama