Apex court drawback for Selangor’s suit against Election Commission

court-sprPUTRAJAYA: The Selangor government will be handicapped without the information about 136,000 voters in its legal challenge against the Election Commission over the redelineation exercise.

This follows the Federal Court’s dismissal today of the state’s leave application to appeal against a July 20 Court of Appeal ruling.

A three-man bench chaired by Chief Justice Raus Sharif said the state did not cross the threshold of Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act to have the merit of its appeal heard.

Leave is only given if questions of law raised are novel and of public importance.

“The dispute in the High Court and Court of Appeal is over an interlocutory matter. In the circumstances, we find the questions of law posed do not warrant us to give leave,” Raus said.

Sitting with him were Court of Appeal President Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin and Justice Aziah Ali.

The Court of Appeal allowed the EC’s appeal that it was not required to provide to the state government the locality code and name of 136,272 voters used in the 1994 and 2003 delineation exercises.

That ruling reversed the order of High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan made on March 9.

At the Court of Appeal, government lawyer Amarjeet Singh told the bench that the data sought by the state from the EC had been destroyed.

He said every government department did not keep records after seven years.

“The 1993 and 2004 electoral rolls information is not there by operation of law,” he said.

However, before the Federal Court yesterday, another government lawyer Alice Loke Yee Ching told the judges the state was not entitled to the information.

Lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan said the information was needed to verify the registration of 136, 372 voters in several state seats in Selangor.

She said the information was needed for the High Court to make a decision based on law and facts.

The PKR-led Selangor government filed a legal challenge in October last year, seeking to nullify the EC’s notice of redelineation, claiming it violated the Federal Constitution in drawing new electoral boundaries.

It wants the court to quash the EC’s notice and direct it to publish a fresh notice on the proposed exercise.

The EC published an 18-page notice in major newspapers last September on the proposed redelineation in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

On Jan 13, the state also filed a discovery application, among others to obtain information of the 136,000 voters and to cross examine the EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah.

Azizul disallowed the state’s move to question Hashim, a decision which was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya, who is a member in the Selangor government’s legal team, said a case management would be held tomorrow to determine the dates of the continued hearing of the judicial review.

State executive councillor Teng Chang Kim told reporters today’s decision was a setback as the information sought would not be made available.

“Nevertheless, our battle for a fair and transparent election will continue,” he added.