By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini

The Kuala Lumpur High Court today allowed Azhar Azizan Harun’s application to strike out former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s legal challenge against Azhar’s appointment as the Dewan Rakyat speaker.

Judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid also allowed Azalina Othman Said’s application to strike out Mahathir’s legal challenge against her appointment as the deputy speaker.

The judge ruled, among others, that only Parliament has the sole power and jurisdiction to decide on the issue of the appointment.

It was reported that the court fixed today for the decision on the striking-out bids.

Besides Azhar and Azalina, the other defendants seeking to strike out the bids are deputy speaker Mohd Rashid Hasnon and Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin.

The lawsuit, among others, targeted the validity of the appointments of Azhar and Azalina as the speaker and deputy speaker but does not target the validity of Rashid’s post as deputy speaker.

On July 23, five plaintiffs – Langkawi MP Mahathir, Jerlun MP Mukhriz Mahathir, Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik, Kubang Pasu MP Amiruddin Hamzah, and Sri Gading MP Shahruddin Md Salleh – filed the originating summons.

Azalina Othman Said

The plaintiffs were seeking a court declaration that the appointments of Azhar and Azalina are invalid and contravene the Federal Constitution and Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders.

They also sought a declaration that following the vacating of the speaker’s post previously held by Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, all MPs must be given an opportunity to find a candidate for the position.

Apart from that, the plaintiffs wanted a declaration that the posts of the Dewan Rakyat speaker and deputy speaker have remained vacant since July 13.

During open-court proceedings today, Ahmad Kamal said the court is precluded from reviewing matters of Dewan Rakyat and the state legislature due to the provisions of Article 63 of the Federal Constitution.

Article 63(1) states that the validity of any proceedings in either House of Parliament or any committee thereof shall not be questioned in any court.

“This court cannot interfere with what has been decided by the Parliament on July 13, 2020, which includes the resolution by the parliament to remove Ariff as the speaker and to elect the first (Azhar) and second (Azalina) defendants as the new speaker and the deputy speaker.

“Article 63(1) of the FC (Federal Constitution) prevents this court from examining the matters involving the course of the proceedings of the Parliament on July 13, 2020, given that the Parliament has the power or jurisdiction to elect and/or to dismiss the speaker,” he said.

“I view that any kind of matter and/or issues concerning the removal and the appointment of the speaker and the deputy speaker ought to be examined, discussed and resolved in the Parliament.

“The Parliament has exclusive jurisdiction over the matter and it has the absolute right to control its own proceedings.

“Indeed, the decision of the Parliament on July 13, 2020, to remove Ariff as the speaker and to appoint the first and second defendants as the new speaker and deputy speaker is conclusive.

“As I see it, the matter has been determined by Parliament on July 13, 2020,” the judge ruled.

Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof

Ahmad Kamal then allowed the defendants’ application to strike out the originating summons.

The judge, however, did not give any order to cost due to the public interest nature of the case.

Neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants were in court today. Counsel Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla acted for all five plaintiffs.

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad appeared for Azhar and Rashid, while counsel Tania Scivetti represented Azalina and Nizam.

When met by the media after proceedings today, Amer said they were very happy with the ruling which was based on clear legal precedents.

“We are very happy with the decision of the court. Yang Arif (Ahmad Kamal) gave a very lengthy and clear judgment, setting out the legal principles in a clear manner, and his decision should not be disputed by any party.

“Even though the case could be seen (by certain quarters) to be political, the court’s decision was purely set on clear legal principles,” he said.

In a press statement issued to the media immediately after court proceedings today, Azalina and Nizam’s legal team said the verdict was in line with the doctrine of separation of power practised in Malaysia.

The doctrine refers to the separation between the executive, legislative and judiciary, each meant to act independently from each other, so that no branch encroaches into the other.

“Yang Arif Ahmad Kamal’s decision today also fortifies the doctrine of separation of power as entrenched in the Federal Constitution.

“The decision also reinforces the judiciary’s most important role, which is to protect the supremacy of our Federal Constitution,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, when met by the media after today’s proceedings, Haniff said the legal team would study the judgment in detail before advising the plaintiffs on whether to appeal the verdict.

“At this moment, we have to first and foremost advise our clients upon a proper study of the judgment (by Ahmad Kamal),” he said.

The full judgment can be accessed here.