PETALING JAYA: The Penang High Court has fixed March 3 to hear amendments in a suit by four assemblymen against the Penang state assembly over a motion compelling them to vacate their seats.
Judicial commissioner Azizan Arshad set the date after listening to submissions from lawyer Chetan Jethwani, who represented the assemblymen, and lawyer Surendra Anath, who represented the Penang state assembly and Speaker Law Choo Kiang.
Chetan urged the court to allow an injunction to prevent the state assembly from tabling the motion to vacate the seats until the appeal is heard.
In his submission, he requested for time to file the amendments to their originating summons following the Federal Court’s ruling on Aug 3 that Article 14A of the Penang state constitution enacted in 2012 was constitutional.
“If the court is not able to allow the injunction, I hope the court can stop the Penang state assembly speaker from informing the Election Commission after the motion to vacate the seats is tabled, debated and passed,” he said.
Surendra argued that the state assembly duties must be carried out and if there were parties who were not satisfied, only then could the case be taken to court.
“Therefore, the motion must be tabled, debated and voted on before the decision is challenged in court and not otherwise,” he said.
On Jan 20, the High Court dismissed the suit. Azizan said he was bound by last year’s Federal Court ruling that affirmed the constitutionality of the state’s anti-hopping provision contained in Article 14A of the state’s constitution.
Article 14A of the Penang state constitution says that an assemblyman shall vacate his seat if having been elected as a candidate of a political party, he resigns or is expelled from a party or having been elected otherwise than as a candidate of a political party, he joins a political party.
However, the four assemblymen – Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sungai Acheh), Dr Afif Bahardin (Seberang Jaya), Khaliq Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (Telok Bahang) – filed an appeal against the decision at the Appeals Court on Jan 25.
On Dec 16 last year, Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat dismissed the leave applications by the four to challenge the competency of the state legislative assembly to pass an anti-hopping law.
The four plaintiffs filed three writs of summons in 2020 against the state legislative assembly and the speaker to challenge a motion introduced in October 2020 for them to vacate their seats and for by-elections to be held.