KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 23): The High Court has set Nov 10 for a decision on the application by Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and two others to strike out the legal suit by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four others to challenge the legitimacy of the appointments of Azhar and Azalina as Dewan Rakyat Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.
Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid fixed the date after hearing lengthy submissions from both parties yesterday.
On July 23, Dr Mahathir and his son, who is former Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz, together with former Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, Kubang Pasu Member of Parliament Datuk Wira Amiruddin Hamzah and Sri Gading Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Shahruddin Md Salleh filed an originating summons to challenge the appointments of Azhar and Azalina.
The five plaintiffs also named Deputy Speaker, Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon and Dewan Rakyat secretary, Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin as the third and fourth defendants.
At the outset, lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad, representing Azhar and Mohd Rashid, submitted that his clients had acted within the powers conferred on them by the Federal Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
He also said that the validity of the election of Azhar and Azalina in the Dewan Rakyat could not be questioned by the court pursuant to Article 63(1) of the Federal Constitution.
Amer Hamzah said the appointment of the first defendant (Azhar) as Dewan Rakyat Speaker was in accordance with its Standing Orders while the third defendant (Mohd Rashid) had acted within the powers conferred on him at all material times and he had the right to exercise all the powers of a Speaker pursuant to Article 57(3) of the Federal Constitution and Standing Orders.
“Therefore, all decisions and rulings made by the third defendant during the Parliament sitting was final and shall not be open to appeal pursuant to Standing Order No 43 and No 99 of the Dewan Rakyat.
“All decisions made by the first and third defendants shall not be questioned and the originating summons should be rendered obviously unsustainable,” he said.
Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla who acted for the five plaintiffs said Article 63 (1) was not an absolute barrier and the court still had jurisdiction to adjudicate any decision or ruling of the Dewan Rakyat where such decision or ruling had been made with no jurisdiction or power, and/or such decision was unlawful and when the Dewan Rakyat exceeded its constitutional or legal limit.
He also submitted that the Dewan Rakyat had no jurisdiction or power to appoint Azhar and Azalina as Dewan Rakyat Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively on grounds that the plaintiffs and other Members of Parliament were barred from nominating their candidates.
“There were two candidates for the respective posts as at July 13, so the debate and voting process must be held but neither debate nor voting process had been done in this particular case. Since the Dewan Rakyat had no jurisdiction or power to do what it had done on July 13, this court has the necessary jurisdiction to intervene,” he said, adding that the court should have dismissed the application by the defendants.
In the originating summons, the five plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s post has been vacant since July 13 and that the appointments of Azhar and Azalina are invalid because they are unconstitutional and/or contrary to the Federal Constitution and/or Standing Orders 3,4, 6 and 47 of the Dewan Rakyat and/or the rule of law.
The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that the 14-day period for each member to nominate the candidates for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker’s posts began from the date the motion to vacate the posts of Speaker and/or Deputy Speaker was passed.
They are also seeking an order for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker if the posts were vacated during a sitting, to undergo the process of nomination, debate and voting by an adequate number of MPs to make it a valid appointment process.
Among the reasons given by the plaintiffs in their summons is that the action of the third defendant (Mohd Rashid) who made the ruling after informing that there was only one candidate for the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s post was invalid as no chance was given by Mohd Rashid and the fourth defendant (Nizam Mydin) to all MPs to nominate and/or debate or vote for the purpose of appointing the new Speaker within 14 days before the sitting could proceed.
The plaintiffs also claim that the action of the fourth defendant to proclaim and call Azhar and Azalina to take the place of Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively was contrary to the Federal Constitution and/or Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat, and was therefore invalid.
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