Cameron Highlands seat will remain vacant until final ruling, says lawyer

Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla

KUALA LUMPUR: MIC vice-president C Sivarraajh is no longer the Cameron Highlands MP as the seat has been declared vacant by the Election Court, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said.

“He can only return to the Dewan Rakyat if the Federal Court reverses the findings of the Election Court,” he said.

Haniff said Sivarraajh could not automatically enter the Dewan Rakyat even if he had lodged an appeal in the apex court.

“An appeal filed in the Federal Court does not act as a stay of the election court’s decision,” he told FMT in response to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof telling Sivarraajh to leave the house.

Ariff made the decision after Jelutong MP RSN Rayer asked if Sivarraajh had a stay order on the Election Court decision.

“Do you have a stay order or not?” Ariff asked Sivarraajh, who replied that he would need to check on that.

“I haven’t checked if I can come to the Dewan or not. But I have 14 days to appeal,” he said.

The speaker then advised Sivarraajh to consult a lawyer to decide on filing his appeal.

Haniff said the MIC leader could file an application in the High Court to appear in the legislature pending the disposal of the matter in the Federal Court within six months.

“Alternatively, Barisan Nasional (BN) chief and Bagan Datoh MP Ahmad Zahid Hamidi should file a motion to allow Sivarraajh to represent Cameron Highlands constituents pending the Federal Court’s ruling,” he said.

Haniff said MPs could debate the matter and the speaker could make a ruling.

“In line with the separation of powers practiced in a parliamentary democracy, the decision of the legislature is final,” he said.

The Election Court last Friday allowed the petition brought by M Manoharan of the DAP and declared BN’s win as invalid after finding corrupt practices were committed to induce voters to cast their ballots for Sivarraajh.

Sivarraajh had won the seat with 10,307 votes while Manogaran polled 9,710. The other candidates were PAS’ Wan Mahadir Wan Mahmud (3,587), PSM’s B Suresh Kumar (680) and Berjasa candidate Mohd Tahir Kassim (81).

He has until Dec 14 to file the appeal, failing which the Election Court will issue a certificate to conduct a by-election within 30 days.