Court of Appeal rejects Selangor’s bid to review EC’s redelineation exercise

The Selangor State Assembly meeting takes place in Shah Alam March 28, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
The Selangor State Assembly meeting takes place in Shah Alam March 28, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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PUTRAJAYA, March 29 ― The Selangor government failed today its appeal for a judicial review of the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation exercise.

Despite agreeing that the Selangor government had the locus standi to challenge the EC and that its appeal was not academic even after the Dewan Rakyat approved the redelineation report yesterday, the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the courts have no jurisdiction to decide on the redelineation and the electoral roll.

The three-judge panel chaired by Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi explained that the Selangor government’s claim of gerrymandering and malapportionment was a non-justifiable matter that the courts could not decide on.

The appellate court said the proper avenues for resolution were at the local enquiries and in the Dewan Rakyat.

“Whether the proposed recommendation of the Election Commission was subject to judicial review, we agree with the learned senior federal counsel that it is not amenable to judicial review.

“In view of our findings, we would dismiss the appeal,” said Justice Datuk Vernon Ong, who read out the judgment on behalf of Justice Ahmadi who had a sore throat today.

The other judge on the Bench was Datuk Karim Abdul Jalil.

The EC was represented by senior federal counsel Datuk Amarjeet Singh.

Amarjeet later told reporters that the reason the court dismissed Selangor's appeal against the EC to use the supplementary electoral roll ― updated in September 2016 and the most recent ― despite agreeing with the appellant was due to impracticality as the roll was constantly updated.

“The current roll was the electoral roll when EC commenced work on 14th July 2016 and that can only be the electoral roll,” he said, referring to the commission’s preparation for the redelineation exercise.

“Otherwise it would be an impossibility or absurdity if the electoral roll were to be on the date of the issue of the notice. It would be impossible to formulate grounds on the very day you have to issue the notice,” Amarjeet added.

The 14th general election will see the EC using its electoral roll from July 2016.

However, the notice was published in September 2016 just after it had updated its rolls for the third quarter of the year.

The Selangor government wanted the EC to include the rolls on September 2016.

Amarjeet also explained that the nature of the EC's proposed recommendations supplements what the Dewan Rakyat will eventually decide, making it an issue of the separation of powers where the court cannot interfere.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya who represented Selangor together with Datuk Cyrus Das told reporters that this was the first time the court has “gone into the full merit” of the issue and agreed that the appellant has locus standi and that the EC should have used the latest supplementary roll.

“The court agreed with us that they should use the current electoral roll which includes [the] supplementary roll. However, the court agreed with the EC that the review actually started when they had their meetings in 14th July 2016.

“Unfortunately because of that, they decided that the current roll does not include [the] supplementary roll,” she said.

Latheefa said she is awaiting instructions from the Selangor government on whether or not to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Federal Court.

Justice Ahmadi did not make an order as to costs.

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