Ex-judge: Legal avenue still open to fight redelineation report

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Sri Ram says a voter could apply for judicial review and seek the appropriate relief under paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

PETALING JAYA: A retired judge said voters in Selangor can still turn to the courts for remedy, even though the Election Commission (EC) has submitted its report on the redelineation of electoral boundaries in the peninsula to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Gopal Sri Ram said a voter who was affected could apply for judicial review and seek the appropriate relief under paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

“The appropriate remedy here will be a declaration and injunction to restrain the prime minister from presenting the report to the Dewan Rakyat,” he told FMT in a Whatsapp reply.

Sri Ram said this in response to EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah’s statement last Friday that it had submitted its final report to Najib and thus had completed its function as provided for under Article 113 (10) of the Federal Constitution.

Hashim said the redelineation exercise was delayed by over a year after 15 cases were filed by various parties, challenging it in court.

Meanwhile, electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 acting chairman Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari said several voters in Selangor who were denied the right to be heard by the EC during the second public enquiries had filed actions in court.

“More suits will be filed in the days to come,” he told FMT, adding that the legal avenue should not be abandoned even though the odds were stacked against those challenging the EC.

He claimed the EC’s move to submit its report without the completion of the public hearing was illegal.

Shahrul said the EC had only notified and held local enquiries for approximately 50 people, although over 250 objections were filed by voters in Selangor in February.

The commission, he said, had failed to notify the other 200 of the status of their objections and inquiries.

Apart from the legal challenges, he expressed hope the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat would not be “accomplices” in allowing the report, which did not adhere to constitutional guidelines, to be approved.

“MPs, as the representatives of the people, must vote according to their conscience and not according to party line or the whims of the prime minister,” he said.

Shahrul said the report was now in the hands of the prime minister who had unfettered power, under Section 9, Thirteenth Schedule of the constitution, to make any further changes as he deemed necessary before tabling it in the Dewan Rakyat.

The report needs to be approved by a simple majority and the new boundaries can come into force once it obtains royal assent.

On Feb 19, the year-long legal battle by two opposition MPs and seven voters from Melaka to challenge the EC’s proposals in redrawing electoral boundaries came to an end.

A three-man Federal Court bench, chaired by Chief Justice Raus Sharif, in refusing them leave to appeal against two Court of Appeal rulings last year, said the EC’s recommendations were not amenable to judicial review.

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