KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed the Selangor government’s judicial review application to challenge the Election Commission’s (EC) exercise in redrawing the electoral boundaries.
Justice Azizul Azmi Adnan, who delivered his oral grounds, said his decision was partly due to a binding Court of Appeal ruling arising from the EC’s appeal against voters in Melaka.
“In this case, the challenge is dismissed as the applicant is not an adversely affected party due to the EC’s recommendation to conduct the delineation exercise.” he said in the packed courtroom.
However, the judge acknowledged that the EC had failed to come up with rebuttal evidence on some contentious issues raised by the state.
Azizul dismissed all four grounds canvassed by the the state. They were over malapportionment and gerrymandering in most constituencies, the names of about 136,000 voters were missing, the EC had failed to use the latest electoral roll to conduct its exercise, and a lack of information in the notice before the boundary redrawing exercise was to be carried out.
“I encourage you to appeal this ruling,” Azizul told lawyers appearing for the state.
The judge allowed the state’s interim stay application pending the outcome of Selangor’s appeal in the Court of Appeal.
“The EC is stopped from conducting any local inquiries until the appeal is disposed of,” he said.
Azizul said there were special circumstances to grant the stay as the court would have no jurisdiction to hear the appeal once the EC presented its report to the prime minister to be tabled in parliament.
The judge said the challenge was unprecedented and had far reaching consequences.
“Selangor’s appeal will be rendered nugatory,” he said, adding that the EC had until September next year to complete its task.
Government lawyer Amarjeet Singh objected to the stay application by lawyer Cyrus Das on the grounds the EC must be allowed to perform its constitutional function.
“The stay amounts to an injunction to stop the EC from completing its task,” he added.
Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali, who was present to follow the proceeding, later told reporters an appeal would be filed as the ruling not only affected the state but also all voters.
“I am glad the status quo in Selangor remains as the EC has been stopped from conducting any inquiry,” he said.
The PKR-led Selangor government filed the 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.
The state also wanted a declaration that the notice was lacking in details and would cause voters, local authorities or the state government to be unable to exercise their constitutional right to file representations.
It wanted the court to quash the EC’s notice and an order to direct it to publish a fresh notice on the proposed exercise.
The EC published an 18-page notice in major newspapers in September last year on the proposed redelineation in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.