The Selangor government has succeeded in obtaining a brief stay that would prevent the Election Commission from holding inquiries in its ongoing delimitation exercise.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court granted the stay which would expire once the an application for leave to initiate judicial review proceedings against the Election Commission is disposed of.
Dec 16 has been set for hearing for the application. This order will only apply to Selangor and not other states.
"There are special circumstances (for the court to grant an interim stay) until the application is heard and disposed off," said judicial commissioner Azizul Azmi Adnan.
He said that the affidavits filed by the Selangor government was sufficient grounds for the court to grant a stay.
He said that the affidavits filed by the Selangor government were sufficient grounds for the court to grant a stay as if it is not granted it may render the application nugatory.
Azizul said it was vital for the situation to remain at status quo based on the affidavits that have been filed, as the EC would not be prejudiced that much until the leave application is heard on Dec 16. The court made no order as to costs.
In supporting the Selangor state government's application for judicial review, its Menteri Besar Azmin Ali had said boundaries to 18 parliamentary constituencies had been changed.
He said there was a public outcry about the notice and proposed recommendations, which he claimed included “drastic changes which appeared to favour one particular party especially in Selangor”.
The Selangor government named the EC, its chairperson, Mohd Hashim Abdullah and secretary Abdul Ghani Salleh as the respondents.
Former Bersih 2.0 chairperson and lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan for the Selangor government, in submitting for the stay, had said they wanted to make sure that the matter would not become academic should the EC be allowed to continue with its delimitation and inquiries.
“At present, Sabah has nearly completed with its delimitation exercise although the notice issued by the EC was the same, that is Sept 15,” she said.
The lawyer also told the court that if leave is granted the applicants will seek a permanent stay of the delimitation exercise until the disposal by the court in hearing the merits for judicial review.
For this reason, Ambiga said it was vital for the interim stay to be granted.
Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, Shamsul Bolhassan and Azizan Md Arshad, appearing for the EC, told the court that there are no special circumstances produced by the applicant to grant a stay.
Two local inquiries, then report to be sent to PM
At present the EC is conducting its redelineation exercise in peninsular Malaysia, following a notice published that includes its proposal for delimitation on Sept 15, 2016.
Three parties namely 100 voters of a constituency, the local government and the state government may file objection to the exercise within a month.
With that the EC will hold an inquiry for the objections to be heard and then publish a second notice again where the three parties could again file objections if they are not satisfied, and following that a second inquiry is held.
After the second inquiry, the EC can hand over its final report to the prime minister, where the PM in turn will table it to the Parliament for it to be debated and gazetted.
It was reported that the Selangor government had on Oct 19 filed the judicial review application in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur to stop the present redelineation exercise.
It wants the court to declare as null and void the EC’s Sept 15 redelineation notice, its recommendations, the electoral rolls used in the redelineation exercise and the draft constituency plan for Selangor.
The state government also wants to compel the EC to publish a new notice with new recommendations that “truly” follow the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
In its application, it described the present exercise as unconstitutional and inconsistent with Article 113(2) and Sections 2(c) and 2(d) of the Thirteenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
Section 2(c) in the Federal Constitution states that the number of electors (or voters) within each constituency in the state should be approximately equal, with the exception of certain circumstances while Section 2(d) states that inconveniences with regard to the alterations of constituencies, and the maintenance of local ties, should be taken into account.-Mkini