Hornbill Unleashed

June 15, 2017

Be fair when fast-tracking electoral boundary cases, courts urged

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

Varughese highlighted two current separate cases against the EC where the Selangor government and seven Melaka voters were the challengers been expedited for hearing next week under orders from the Chief Justice. ― Picture by Choo Choy MayThe Malaysian Bar expressed concern today with how select legal challenges to the Election Commission’s (EC) boundary redrawing exercise was being sped up for hearing ahead of the 14th general elections.

It noted a lack of transparency and seeming irregularities that allowed certain cases to be expedited while others were left on the shelf if it were in the EC’s favour.

“If the administration of justice is to be seen as even-handed, the courts must be concerned not only in cases where the decision has gone against the EC, but equally in cases where the EC has won and there is an appeal,” the Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said in a late night statement.

He highlighted two current separate cases against the EC where the Selangor government and seven Melaka voters were the challengers been expedited for hearing next week under orders from the Chief Justice.

He noted that lawyers on both sides in the Selangor dispute had not agreed to the date fixed for hearing at the High Court, and added that in the Melaka case, the Attorney-General’s Chambers representing the EC had not yet filed its record of appeal as required by procedure.

He noted further a third case by Perak challengers appealing against the court’s refusal for permission for a review against the EC had been left stagnant, despite following procedure.

“We agree with the principle that court hearings for matters of public interest — such as these challenges against the EC in relation to the ongoing electoral redelineation exercise — should be given priority, because the implications of these legal challenges are far-reaching.

“However, prioritising such cases should not come at the expense of all parties concerned having the opportunity to undertake proper and thorough preparation for the hearings,” Varughese said.

He added that the “hastily arranged change or fixing of hearing dates, without the agreement of the parties,” is contrary to the Chief Judge of Malaya’s Practice Direction 2 of 2011 that requires the courts to consider the availability of the lawyers with priority given to older cases as well as consensus from all parties.

“It is clear that this Practice Direction 2 of 2011 is not being adhered to,” Varughese said.

“The Malaysian Bar calls on the Judiciary to ensure that all cases dealing with challenges to the EC be conducted with the utmost of transparency and integrity.

“In addition, due and proper regard must be paid to the need for counsel for all parties to have adequate time to prepare and present their written and oral submissions in a manner that is befitting the dignity of the courts and the interest of justice,” he added.


Source : The Malay Mail Online


 

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