KUALA LUMPUR: The Bersih 2.0 steering committee has succeeded in its bid to get the court to quash an order by the Home Minister that the movement is an unlawful society.
The ruling by High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Rohana Yusuf, however, has given rise to different takes of what the decision means to each party.
The applicants’ lawyer K. Shanmuga said the court ruling implies that Bersih 2.0 is now a legal entity while Senior Federal Counsel Azizan Md Arshad said the decision shows that it remains an unregistered society.
The minister’s decision was tainted with irrationality, said Justice Rohana, leading to applause and cheers among the Bersih supporters.
The judge said the facts of the case were built upon ongoing episodes after the minister made the order on July 1 last year, adding it was all so intertwined that it would be ridiculous to ignore the developments without looking at the facts in their entirety.
She said after Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin called for all parties to resolve the situation, the following took place:
> There were negotiations between the applicants and the minister on the location of the Bersih rally;
> Bersih 2.0 steering committee co-chairman Datuk S. Ambiga had an audience with Tuanku Mizan on July 5; and
> Bersih 2.0 rally took place without censure as scheduled on July 9.
Justice Rohana held that since Bersih was not considered a society detrimental to security on July 1, it would be unreasonable to find it so a week after that.
She said the decision to outlaw Bersih impinged on the rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and should not have been taken in a lackadaisical manner.
“If it is found to be a threat to the security of the nation, the conduct of the respondents in treating Bersih certainly showed the opposite,” she said in her 30-page judgment yesterday.
Justice Rohana said there could only be one of the following things that could happen – either Bersih was unlawful for being a threat to security; or the decision to declare Bersih unlawful was made without taking into account some relevant facts or by taking into account some irrelevant facts.
Justice Rohana also noted that no action had been taken against the applicants under the Societies Act which apply to an unlawful society.
Ambiga and 13 others had applied to quash the July 1 order made under Section 5 of the Societies Act declaring that the coalition was an unlawful society.
The Home Minister, Inspector-General of Police and the Government were named as respondents in the application.
The judge did not make any order as to costs.
Bersih 2.0 co-chairman Datuk A. Samad Said told reporters later that they were glad that the judge had seen the contradiction in the action of the authorities.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the ministry would seek the Attorney-General Chamber’s views on whether an appeal should be made against the High Court decision.
“I respect the High Court’s decision,” he said.