KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — The High Court will decide on November 10 whether it will dismiss Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawsuit questioning the validity of the Parliament Speaker and Deputy Speakers’ appointments.
High Court judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md. Shahid fixed the date after hearing submissions from both sides today.
The application to strike out the lawsuit of Dr Mahathir, Jerlun MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik, Kubang Pasu MP Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah and Sri Gading MP Datuk Shaharuddin Md Salleh was originally meant to be decided today.
The five lawmakers named Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, Deputy Speakers Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, and Parliament secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin as respondents.
Azalina and Nizam filed the application for the dismissal.
Earlier, the respondents’ lawyer,Amer Hamzah Arshad argued the validity of the parliamentary election process of both Azhar and Azalina may not be reviewed by the courts based on Article 63(1) of the Federal Constitution.
He further argued that there was no issue for the courts to examine as he asserted that the appointments were consistent with the Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Orders (DRSO).
“From the chronology of events on what has transpired, there is no dispute that all these matters were part and parcel of parliamentary proceedings,” he said, citing Article 63(1) of the Federal Constitution on Parliament privilege.
The specific Article holds that the validity of parliamentary affairs shall not be questioned in any court.
“You may disagree, but it is not for the court to interfere on how Parliament proceedings are conducted.
“The first and third respondents acted clearly within the DRSO. As long as the motion complied with the DRSO, we have to respect their decision,” he said, adding that the plaintiffs could move a supplementary motion in Parliament if they were not satisfied with the ruling.
Citing the Federal Constitution further, Amer said Article 72(1) affirmed the restriction imposed on the judiciary from examining whatever matters concerning the removal and appointment of Speakers in the state legislative assembly.
“The legislative assembly has an exclusive jurisdiction over the matter and has the absolute right to conduct its proceedings.
“So clearly what we’re asking for is that the court cannot decide because Parliament has exclusive right,” he said, adding that the court was not a proper forum to decide on how Parliament should conduct its business.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla argued that the members of parliament (MP) were deprived of their rights to nominate candidates for both positions following the removal of Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof on July 13 and resignation of his deputy Nga Kor Ming on the same day.
“What we are saying here is a blatant disregard of the 14 days on the rules under the DRSO and it cannot be swept under the carpet using Article 63(1) of Federal Constitution,” Haniff said.
He also argued the plaintiffs’ originating summons was not meant to “paralyse” Parliament proceeding but instead stemmed from the irregularities in the appointment of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers.
“In fact the former speaker (Mohamad Ariff) accepted motions on June 26 to remove him and deputy speaker (Nga) and he stated in writing, he accepted on the motions because they complied with the Standing Orders.
“However on the motions about Azhar, Azalina’s appointments, Mohamad Ariff only stated he took note of them,” he said, adding any motions to remove and fill the vacancies need to be submitted at least 14 days in advance according to No. 4 of the DRSO.
Later, Amer claimed that a ruling against the respondents today would open up an “unmitigated floodgate” of legal challenges against the rulings of the Speaker.
He also asserted that allowing Dr Mahathir’s lawsuit to continue would violate the separation of powers doctrine as enshrined in the constitution.
“It is the parliamentarians themselves to regulate themselves. Therefore this originating summons is unsustainable.
“With that I pray the originating summons be dismissed,” he said.
Amer represented Azhar and Mohd Rashid while Tania Scivetti represented Azalina and Nizam Mydin.
On July 23, Dr Mahathir and the four MPs filed an originating summons to challenge the appointment of Azhar and Azalina as the Speaker and deputy Speaker respectively.
They are seeking a declaration that the two posts have remained vacant since July 13 and the appointments of Azhar and Azalina were void as they are unconstitutional.