Court refuses leave on right to get redelineation information from EC

harisPUTRAJAYA: Activist Haris Ibrahim’s legal challenge to compel the Election Commission (EC) to supply him with relevant information on the proposed redelineation exercise has come to an end.

A three-man Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Raus Sharif dismissed Haris’ leave application as his challenge was not a proper case for the merit of the appeal to be heard.

“Get a better case to ventilate the legal questions,”Raus remarked.

Sitting with him were Court of Appeal President Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin and Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Maarop.

Earlier, lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, appearing for Haris, said his client was entitled to all particulars from the EC as Article 10 of the Federal Constitution impliedly guaranteed the right to information.

However, government lawyer Suzana Atan said Haris had no legal standing to bring the cause of action.

“Moreover, the suit was premature as the action was filed even before the redelineation exercise started last September,” she added.

On Jan 10, a three-man Court of Appeal bench unanimously dismissed Haris’ appeal, saying it had no merit and that he had no issues with the EC.

“The appellant has not suffered from any breach of private or public right as a result of the EC’s actions. His constitutional right has also not been affected,” said judge Zamani A Rahim who delivered the verdict.

Zamani said since Haris was seeking a declaration, the court must be judicious in deciding whether to provide the relief.

The judge said Haris had sought information from the EC for him to make a meaningful decision to express his political right.

Zamani said unlike India and Canada, there was no Freedom of Information Act in Malaysia for the EC to meet Haris’ demand.

He said the wordings in the constitution must be interpreted and applied according to local circumstances, not influenced by the laws in other countries.

Zamani said the EC’s duty was spelt out in the constitution and it could not be ordered to provide beyond what was required.

Haris said the EC had in October 2014 made public statements that it was then collating information with a view to commence a nationwide redelineation exercise.

The EC had also announced that once the notice of the proposed redelineation had been gazetted, the public could study the proposed redelineation at selected places and registered voters could make representations if they were unhappy.

On Dec 8, 2014, Haris wrote to the EC asking for information to better understand any proposed redelineation to his parliamentary seat (Petaling Jaya Selatan) and state constituency (Bukit Gasing).

He did not get any reply from the EC.

In January 2015, he commenced proceedings in the Kuala Lumpur High Court but the suit was dismissed in June the same year on grounds his action was premature as the EC had not yet issued any notice of a proposed redelineation.

The EC gazetted a notice issued under the constitution to carry out the proposed redelineation in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah on Sept 15 last year.

The two-year exercise has yet to be completed in the peninsular.