PUTRAJAYA:The Federal Court today ordered seven people, including three MPs, to face trial for participating in street protests under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) last year.
A five-man bench led by Chief Justice Ariffin Zakaria said there were no facts of proceedings from the trial court to decide on the constitutionality of the Section 4 (2) (c) of the PAA.
“The defendants (the seven) are at liberty to make reference to the Federal Court after a finding of facts has been made whether street protests are constitutional or otherwise,” he said.
What this means, is that the six could return to the apex court to challenge the provision if the trial court orders them to enter defence.
Kuching MP, Chong Chieng Jen and Stampin MP Julian Tan Kok Ping were charged with participating in a Bersih 4 rally on Aug 29 last year in Kuching.
Meanwhile Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin , activists Maria Chin Abdullah, Mandeep Singh, Fariz Musa and Adam Adli Abdul Halim were also charged under the same law.
The five were charged with participating in the #KitaLawan Rally on Feb 28 last year at the Sogo shopping mall and Esplanade KLCC.
If found guilty, they could be fined up to RM10,000 while the three MPs could be disqualified from holding office and contesting in the next election if they are fined more than RM2,000.
All were charged in the Sessions Court but the High Courts referred their matters to the Federal Court to determine the constitutionality of Section 4 (2) (c) of the PAA.
Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, representing Chong and Tan, urged the bench to hear the reference as no facts were needed to determine the constitutionality of the section against Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
However, Arifin said the prosecution must prove in court if the accused participated in a street protest.
“Or else, everytime there is a case, an accused will run to the Federal Court to determine the constitutionality of the charge,” he said.
Deputy Public Prosecuor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud, who appeared for the government, concurred with the view of the bench.