PETALING JAYA: The Penang High Court has denied four assemblyman an interim injunction to stop the state’s legislative assembly from tabling a motion to vacate their seats.
Judicial commissioner Azizan Arshad said the courts have no power to interfere with the internal management of Parliament or any state legislative assembly.
“The court must always give recognition to the doctrine of separation of powers,” he said.
Azizan, who delivered his ruling through email to the lawyers of the parties in the suit, said the immunity arose from a long-standing doctrine which separates the functions of the three principal organs of government – the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.
He said interference by the court in the affairs of the executive or the legislature would “affect the freedom of the three to act according to their respective jurisdictions” and give rise to “a clash which will destroy the doctrine”.
Azizan said the plaintiffs – Dr Afif Bahardin (Seberang Jaya), Zulkifli Ibrahim (Sungai Acheh), Khaliq Mehtab Ishaq (Bertam) and Zolkifly Lazim (Telok Bahang) – had failed to show that an Erinford injunction ought to be granted in their favour.
“The court hereby dismisses the plaintiffs’ application,” he said.
The motion to vacate the seats is expected to be tabled before the state assembly on March 6.
On Jan 20, Azizan dismissed a suit by the same assemblymen against the state’s legislative assembly and Speaker Law Choo Kiang over a motion compelling them to vacate their seats.
In that decision, Azizan said he was bound by a Federal Court ruling last year which affirmed the constitutionality of the state’s anti-hopping provision as set out under Article 14A of the state constitution.
Azizan also ruled that he did not have power to invalidate a motion by the legislative assembly and the speaker against the four.
The assemblymen have filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal against that decision.
They also filed an application seeking an Erinford injunction to restrain the defendants from tabling the motion.
The four 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.
Lawyer Chetan Jethwani represented the assemblymen, while A Surendra Ananth appeared for the state assembly and the speaker.