PUTRAJAYA: The Selangor state government is seeking to recuse two judges from hearing its appeal on the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation exercise.
It is applying to disqualify or recuse Court of Appeal judges Justices Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Kamardin Hashim, as both had heard and decided on similar subjects in two previous cases.
The state government's lead counsel Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, who was assisted by Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, said that Justices Mohd Zawawi and Kamardin both ran the risk of having already decided on the issues in the appeal.
The judges were on the bench that dismissed an appeal last year by two opposition MPs from Perak who were challenging the EC's redelineation exercise.
Das added that Justice Zawawi had also chaired a Court of Appeal bench in 2015 that overturned the Kuching High Court's decision to nullify a notice by the EC for the proposed redelineation exercise for Sarawak.
Following this, Justice Mohd Zawawi said he would refer the recusal application to his superior Justice Zulkifli Ahmad Makinudin, who is the Court of Appeal president, to decide on the new panel of judges to hear the appeal.
He then adjourned the hearing to Tuesday (March 27).
The one other judge on the panel was Justice Vernon Lam Kiat.
Das added that Justices Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Kamardin Hashim had decided that the EC could not be stopped by the court from carrying out its task before presenting its proposals to the Prime Minister.
"The concern of the state government must be given due regard. The perception of bias from the public point of view is important," said Das.
Senior Federal Counsel Alice Loke, who is representing the EC, said that there was no reason to recuse the judges as the perception of bias was not the criteria for the disqualification.
On Dec 7 last year, High Court judge Justice Azizul Azmi Adnan dismissed the Selangor government's application for judicial review to quash the EC's notice on the proposed seat redelineation exercise.