PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has ruled that Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and six state executive council members are entitled to challenge the State Assembly Speaker’s order to suspend them by way of a declaration.
Dismissing a preliminary objection by State Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar’s lawyers over the matter, Court of Appeal president Justice Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, who chaired a five-man panel yesterday, said:
“We are unanimous (in our decision) that the seven applicants are entitled to bring this action by way of declaration. We dismiss the preliminary objection and will proceed to hear the merits of the case,” he said.
Dr Zambry and the six exco members had filed an originating summons at the Ipoh High Court on March 2 seeking a declaration that the suspension order was illegal.
On Monday, Sivakumar’s lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah raised an objection, saying that the matter ought to proceed by way of judicial review and not the originating summons.
Outside the court, counsel for the seven applicants, Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, said the decision was a landmark that stated that “you can either go by way of originating summons or judicial review, when necessary.”
On Feb 18, Sivakumar, who heads the Perak Committee of Special Privileges, suspended the seven and barred them from attending the assembly sittings for allegedly showing contempt for the House for being sworn in “through unconditional means’’.
Dr Zambry was suspended for 18 months while the exco members were each suspended for 12 months.
Yesterday, the applicants’ lead counsel Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin, posed six questions of law to the apex court for interpretation of the provisions of the Perak Constitution, including whether the speaker’s decision to suspend and prohibit the seven from attending sessions of the assembly violated the law and therefore, was null and void.
Sulaiman, however, argued that the speaker’s decision was not open to scrutiny of the courts.
“The only body that may review the speaker’s decision is the assembly. At the end of the day, it is the people who decide whether what happens in the House is right or wrong.”
He argued that the separation of powers doctrine was so strict that the applicants had acted in breach of parliamentary privilege by exhibiting some documents without the permission of the speaker.
Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who acted as intervener, submitted that the apex court had the authority to interpret the Constitution.
He said it was the assembly which had the power to suspend one of its members and not the Speaker or the Committee of Privileges.
The hearing, before Justice Alauddin, Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Arifin Zakaria and Federal Court judges Justices Nik Hashim Nik Ab. Rahman, S. Augustine Paul and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, continues tomorrow.
Sumber : The Star 15 April 2009