One-day Parliament sitting cannot be challenged in court, says speaker

Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff says the application for a declaration on the validity of the one-day sitting of Parliament has no merit.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff said the validity of the one-day sitting of Parliament on May 18 cannot be questioned in any court.

“The planitiffs’ application for a declaration has no merit as Article 63 (1) of the Federal Constitution states that validity of any proceedings cannot be challenged in a court,” Ariff said in his counter affidavit to a suit brought by two individuals, including a lawyer.

He said the May 18 sitting was also in compliance with the Standing Orders.

By convention, he said, the speaker should abide by the decision, the setting of dates as well as order of business for the sitting as determined by the leader of the house (the prime minister).

“In any case, should Parliament not sit in accordance with the Standing Orders, it will only amount to non-abiding with the order of business for the sitting and cannot be declared invalid for violating the constitution,” he said in his affidavit sighted by FMT.

Ariff is a former dean of the law faculty of Universiti Malaya, a retired judge and legal consultant before he was elected speaker by the Pakatan Harapan government.

Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, who affirmed an affidavit on behalf of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, also said the single-day was valid as it abided by the Federal Constitution and Standing Orders.

The affidavit, signed by Nizam, was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court registry on June 22.

Nizam said the May 18 sitting was legal because there had been two letters issued on the matter.

He said the two letters informed that the “Ketua Majlis” (leader of the house) had fixed May 18 as the only day for the parliamentary sitting, and that it was only to hear the King’s speech in light of the danger posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Dewan Rakyat was originally scheduled to sit for 15 days between May 18 and June 23.

“I have been advised by the senior federal counsel and believe that the plaintiffs’ application is misconceived both legally and under the Standing Orders,” Nizam said.

As such, he said, the plaintiffs’ application has no merit and should be dismissed with costs.

On May 15, R Kengadharan and D Arumugam filed an originating summons and sought a declaration that the notice issued to MPs on May 13 was against the constitution and Standing Orders of the house.

They also said it was public knowledge that the opposition intended to pass a motion of no confidence against the prime minister, and that the one-day sitting would not fulfil the constitutional requirement for the discussion of important matters other than the royal address.

In their affidavit in support, Kengadharan and Arumugam said the one-day sitting would not fulfil the requirements of Article 55 of the constitution as no other important matters would be discussed, as stated under Order 14(1).

They also said the gathering would not be in line with Article 55, taking into consideration the words “sitting”, “meeting” and “session” under Order 98.

They said Article 55 also states that Parliament must be allowed to carry out its business as stated under Order 14(1), and that it is also the duty of the speaker to see that the May 18 sitting is in accordance with Article 55 and Orders 11, 12 and 15.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan, representing Kengadharan and Arumugam, said his clients would not file affidavits in reply to Muhyiddin and Ariff as both only raised legal points.

“The respondents have not disputed the facts of the case. We will make our submission before the High Court,” he said.

Oral submissions before a High Court judge have been fixed on July 30.

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