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Federal Court to decide on power to declare seat vacancies

IPOH, 16 March 2009: The Federal Court will decide on the constitutional issue as to who has the power to declare the vacancy of Perak state legislative assembly seats.

This follows a decision of the High Court here today in allowing the application by three independent assemblyperson to refer the matter to the apex court Under Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act.

The three lawmakers — Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi from Behrang, Cpt (R) Mohd Osman Jailu from Changkat Jering and Hee Yit Foong from Jelapang — have sued speaker V Sivakumar for declaring their seats vacant.

The Election Commission (EC) had earlier said that the seats were not vacant.

Lawyer Firoz Hussien Ahmad Jamaluddin who represented the three assemblypersons told reporters: “The Federal Court is the forum which has the right to hear all constitutional issues so this application was made using the section to refer the constitutional issue to the Federal Court for the final decision.”

He said the issue in question was on the interpretation of the Perak constitution — is it the EC or the speaker who has the power to determine whether a state assembly seat is vacant or otherwise.

Others in Firoz’s team were Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, Faizul Hilmi Ahmad Zambri, Badrul Hishah Abdul Wahab and Riza Hassan.

Counsel for Sivakumar, Chan Kok Keong, said there was nothing that could be to be referred to the Federal Court because the dispute was on the speaker’s rights and the speaker had the right to enjoy his immunity.

Moreover, his side had not received any notice on the application to transfer the case to the Federal Court, he said.

Other lawyers on his side were Augustine Anthony, Nga Hock Cheh, Mohd Asri Osman and Leong Cheok Kong.

According to a press statement issued today by Sivakumar’s legal team, Chan then applied to stay the referral of the case to the Federal Court.

He also pointed out that no agreed facts had been placed before the Judicial Commissioner for the High Court to decide whether there are any grounds to refer the matter to Federal Court.

Both Chan and Nga informed the court that in order to protect the interest of the speaker, who is also appealing against the High Court ruling to the Court of Appeal, Sivakumar’s legal team is unable to participate or assist the court in the formulation of constitutional questions for the Federal Court and crave indulgence to leave the court.

On that note, the entire legal team left the High Court. — Bernama


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