Appeals court throws out Streram’s RM7.6 mil suit against EC, returning officer

PKR candidate for Rantau, Dr Streram Sinnasamy .

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today threw out PKR’s Rantau candidate Dr Streram Sinnasamy’s RM7.6 million misfeasance lawsuit against the Election Commission (EC) and its former returning officer.

Judge Ahmadi Asnawi, who led the appeals court panel, said Streram failed to prove Amino Agos Suyub was acting as a public officer in his lawsuit.

Streram claimed Amino and the EC failed to carry out their duties in accordance with the Election Act.

Amino, who is the Rembau district officer, served as the returning officer during nomination day for the May 9 polls for the Rembau parliamentary seat as well as four state seats.

“We allow his (Amino) and the EC’s appeals and the High Court order is now set aside,” Ahmadi said in delivering the court‘s unanimous decision.

Other judges who sat with Ahmadi were Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil and Suraya Othman.

The court also ordered Streram to pay RM10,000 in costs to the EC and Amino.

Last September, the High Court ordered Streram’s lawsuit to proceed to a full trial, after dismissing the EC and Amino’s bid to strike out the lawsuit.

Earlier,  the EC and Amino’s lawyer Jeyanthini Kannaperan told the appeals court that Streram cannot bring an action against Amino because the PKR leader had failed to plead that Amino is a public officer under Malaysian law.

“Members of any commission do not fall under the definition of ‘public servant’ under Article 132(3) of our Federal Constitution.

“He was employed as returning officer under Article 115 by the EC to conduct the polls in the Rembau constituency last year,” she said, adding that Amino is also protected under Section 6 of the Election Commission Act and that EC members enjoy immunity from civil action against them.

Streram’s lawyer Sathia Stella Sidhu said he brought the case against the EC and Amino based on the common law principle of tort of misfeasance.

“There are issues that need to be heard before the High Court.

“He claimed there was deliberate action and abuse of power by Amino in preventing him to enter the nomination centre and file his papers to stand for Rantau last year,” she said.

Sathia later told reporters outside the court that she will get Streram’s instruction on whether to appeal against the dismissal of his lawsuit.

Streram claimed in his lawsuit that although qualified, he was denied the constitutional right to contest during the May 9 general election and the Rantau voters were not given a chance to vote.

He also said he was never informed by the EC or its agents that name tags or an entry pass were required to gain access to the centre.

Umno’s Mohamad Hassan won the Rantau seat uncontested.

Last month, the Federal Court upheld the Seremban election court‘s decision to call for a by-election in Rantau.

The by-election will be held on April 13 , with Streram representing PKR again.