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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Impossible for MPs to challenge suspension of sitting, says govt lawyer


Multiple legal challenges have been mounted against the suspension of Parliament and state assemblies under the Emergency proclamation.

JOHOR BAHRU: An absolute ouster clause in the Federal Constitution makes it impossible for an MP to obtain leave from the High Court for a judicial review on an Emergency proclamation to suspend Parliament and state legislative assemblies, a government lawyer said.

Federal counsel Safiyyah Omar submitted that the applicant, Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim, could only “knock on the door of the court but it cannot be opened”.

“The court has no jurisdiction to entertain the application as it does not have the key to open the door due to an absolute ouster clause,” she said in opposing Hassan’s leave application.

Safiyyah said a High Court in Kuala Lumpur early this month had ruled that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s emergency proclamation and the ordinances enacted could not be challenged on any grounds.

Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim.

Judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid had on March 11 said Article 150(8), had shut the court’s doors on any challenge or application.

Applicants Salahuddin Ayub (Pulai MP), Johari Abdul (Sungai Petani MP) and Abdul Aziz Bari (Tebing Tinggi assemblyman in Perak) were the first elected representatives to have failed to cross the low threshold to have the merit of their complaints heard.

However, lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar, today submitted in a virtual proceeding that judicial commissioner Evrol Mariette Peters, who is hearing Hassan’s application, was not bound by Kamal’s verdict.

“Both Peters and Kamal are of equal standing as they have coordinate jurisdiction,” he said.

Gurdial said a recent majority Federal Court ruling also held that there was no complete ouster clause to stop judges from hearing complaints against a public authority.

Peters has reserved judgment for April 26.

Lawyers Christopher Leong, Razlan Hadri Zulkifli and Abdullah Abdul Rahman are also appearing for Hassan, who filed the legal challenge on Jan 27 on a certificate of urgency.

Similar legal challenges filed against the government and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be heard next month. They are by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s loyalist Khairuddin Abu Hassan, and a group of non-governmental organisations. - FMT

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