PUTRAJAYA: A registered voter has lost her appeal at the Court of Appeal here for a declaration that a meeting convened by the Election Commission (EC) chairman alone without other members and decisions made at the meeting relating to the Semenyih state by-election was null and void.A three-member panel comprising Justices Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal, Datuk Suraya Othman and Datuk Azizah Nawawi, in a unanimous decision, dismissed Puan Sri Sabariah Mohd Shariff’s appeal.
Justice Harmindar Singh, who chaired the panel, said under Section 114(7) and Section 33C of the 11th Schedule of the Federal Constitution, the EC is allowed to exist and function lawfully in the event of vacancies in their membership.
“There is no appealable error by the High Court. The decision of the High Court is hereby affirmed, ” he said.
Sabariah, 59, filed an originating summons last year, naming the EC, the commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun and the Federal Government as defendants.
In her suit, Sabariah sought a declaration that the EC meeting on Jan 18, last year chaired by Azhar Azizan himself without the deputy chairman and the five members was null and void and contrary to Article 114(1) and all the decisions made at the meeting were also null and void and could not be executed by Azhar Azizan.
The six former EC members were Tan Sri Othman Mahmood (who was the deputy chairman), Datuk Md Yusop Mansor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Datuk Sulaiman Narawi, Datuk K. Bala Singam and Datuk Leo Chong Cheong.
Five of the members resigned on Oct 18,2018, and one on Nov 27,2018, and all their resignations took effect on Jan 1,2019.
On Feb 25 last year, the Shah Alam High Court dismissed Sabariah’s originating summons, ruling that there was no need for the involvement of a certain number of EC numbers to fulfil the quorum at any meeting to make a decision.
The High Court judge, SM Komathy, made the decision after referring to a case involving Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in which the Court of Appeal decided that the EC could continue functioning legally even with fewer than seven members.
On Jan 18 last year, Azhar Azizan announced that the Semenyih state by-election would be held on March 2 last year and that nomination would be on Feb 16 last year, and early voting on Feb 26.
It was only on Feb 14 last year that the government announced the appointment of five new members of the EC, namely Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Sharom (as the deputy chairman), Datuk Seri Ramlan Ibrahim, Datuk Chin Phaik Yoong, Assoc Prof Dr Faisal S. Hazis and Zoe Randhawa.
The Semenyih by-election was won by Barisan Nasional’s Zakaria Hanafi, who received 19,780 votes against the then Pakatan Harapan’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali who garnered 17,866 votes.
Sabariah was represented by lawyers Datuk Shaharudin Ali and Mohd Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz while senior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad appeared for the respondents. — Bernama
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