PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court on Thursday allowed the Penang government to commence a petition it had filed in an attempt to restore local government elections. Federal Court judge Datuk Hasan Lahgranted leave to the state government and the former president of the non-governmental organisation Aliran, P. Ramakrishnan, to proceed with the petition to challenge the validity of the provision in the Local Government Act 1976 which prevented state legislatures from providing for local government elections within their states. He allowed the state government's application for leave on a sole legal question to be deliberated and decided by the Federal Court.
The question of law was whether Parliament has the power to enact laws relating to local government elections.
The Federal Court has yet to fix a hearing date.
The Penang government and Ramakrishnan were represented by lawyer Tommy Thomas while the federal government and the Election Commission, which were named as respondents in the petition, were represented by senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh and Suzana Atan.
In the petition, the Penang government and Ramakrishnan sought to declare Section 15 of the Local Government Act 1976 invalid as they claimed that the section was void because Parliament acted beyond its powers under the Federal Constitution in enacting that provision.
Since the matter involved constitutional issues, leave has to be first obtained from a single Federal Court judge.
In the petition, the state government and Ramakrishnan said local government elections were held in George Town in 1951, conducted by the local authority.
They said the Penang State Legislative Assembly passed the Local Government Elections (Penang Island and Province Wellesley) Enactment 2012 on May 9 last year and gazetted it on July 5 last year.
The Pakatan Rakyat-led Penang government has been attempting to restore local government elections which were abolished 48 years ago, on March 1, 1965. - Bernama.