High Court rules one-day Parliament sitting in May valid due to Covid-19

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah delivers the royal address during the opening of the first meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament in Kuala Lumpur May 18, 2020. — Bernama pic
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah delivers the royal address during the opening of the first meeting of the third session of the 14th Parliament in Kuala Lumpur May 18, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — The High Court  here today ruled that the one-day Parliament sitting on May 18 was valid and in accordance with the law, even though it was unusual and unprecedented,  to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid made the ruling after dismissing an originating summons filed by lawyer R. Kengadharan, and a social activist, D. Arumugam, against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof,  for a declaration that the one-day Parliament sitting was unconstitutional.

“I have no doubt the one-day sitting is unusual and unprecedented, but to me it is not something illegal, but legal in the face of the law,” he said.

The judge said the two letters from the Leader of the House, who is the Prime Minister, dated April 17 and May 12, which stated May 18 as the only day for the Parliament sitting and that it was only to hear the Royal address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the danger of the Covid-19 pandemic were fair and reasonable.

He said the government’s to have a one day sitting was reasonable and valid as the government had every right to protect the lives of the members of the House from the risk of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kengadharan and Arumugam filed the suit on May 15, naming Muhyiddin and Mohamad Ariff as the first and second defendant,  respectively, for a declaration that the May 18 Parliament sitting was null and void as it only heard the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s speech and therefore contravened Article 55 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

They claimed the first sitting was illusory as there was no other important events that took place as stated under the Standing Order 14 of the Dewan Rakyat.

Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, in his affidavit filed on behalf of Muhyiddin and Mohamad Ariff, said the May 18 Parliament sitting was in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the Dewan Rakyat Standing Order.

He said the application by Kengadharan, and Arumugam has no merit as the validity of any Dewan Rakyat proceedings cannot be challenged in any court as stipulated under Article 63 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

On May 13, Mohamad Ariff, in a statement said he had received a notification letter signed by Prime Minister as the Ketua Majlis stating that the government has decided that the agenda for the First Meeting of the Third Session of the 14th Parliament, which will take place for one day, has been amended to focus only on the Royal Address.

He said this was due to the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic in the country was not over yet. — Bernama

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