Court strikes out suit by Dr M, 4 others over appointment of speaker, deputies
(FMT) – The High Court here today allowed an application by Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun and his deputies to strike out a lawsuit filed by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four other MPs to question the validity of their appointments.
Judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid said the court is prohibited from questioning the business of the Dewan Rakyat and state assemblies, as stipulated under Article 63(1) of the Federal Constitution.
“The appointments of the speaker and deputies were debated and voted on during the sitting on July 13, where 111 MPs voted in favour while 109 MPs voted against.
“The appointments are part of the Dewan Rakyat proceedings,” he said.
Kamal also said the dispute over the appointment of Azhar and deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said had become conclusive after the MPs had cast their votes.
“The Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara have exclusive jurisdiction to appoint and remove their speakers and deputies,” he said
Mahathir and the other four – Mukhriz Mahathir (Jerlun), Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam), Amiruddin Hamzah (Kubang Pasu) and Shahruddin Md Salleh (Sri Gading) – had sought a declaration that the appointment of Azhar and Azalina was unconstitutional as it violated Article 57 of the Federal Constitution and Standing Orders 3, 4, 6 and 47.
Besides Azhar and Azalina, deputy speaker Rashid Hasnon and Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin were named as defendants.
In his decision, Kamal also pointed out that an election of the speaker was “not necessarily contingent on the vacancy of the office” as MPs could choose to remove and replace the individual with another person while in office.
“The plain and ordinary meaning under Standing Orders 4 and 6 sets out the procedure for an election, whether or not there has been a vacancy,” he said.
He said the Standing Orders prevented the courts from interpreting the business of the house.
“It was not disputed that then speaker (Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof) accepted Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s motion to remove him and replace him with a new speaker.
“At all material times, he (Ariff) had the right to refuse the motions to be tabled,” Kamal said.
Lawyers Amer Hamzah Arshad, representing Azhar and Rashid, asked the court to award costs of RM10,000 to them. Co-counsel Tania Scivetti, appearing for Azalina and Nizam, also asked for the same amount.
Mahathir’s lawyer, Haniff Khatri Abdulla, said costs should not be awarded in public interest cases.
Kamal did not make any order on costs.
Haniff later told reporters he would take instructions from Mahathir and the other independent MPs on whether to appeal against today’s decision.
Amer said the decision had “clearly laid out the legal principles” and should not be disputed by any party.
Azalina, meanwhile, said in a statement the court’s decision had “fortified the doctrine of separation of powers under the Federal Constitution” and reinforced the courts’ duty to uphold the constitution.