Decision on Tian Chua’s disqualification suit on May 4.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court has set Friday (May 4) to hand down its decision on PKR vice-president Tian Chua’s bid to reverse the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to disqualify him from contesting the Batu parliamentary seat.
High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Nordin Hassan fixed the date after hearing submissions from the parties named here on Thursday (May 3).
“The case laws were given to me this morning and I need to go through them,” he told the packed courtroom.
On Monday (April 30), Tian Chua, whose real name is Chua Tian Chang, filed a suit to reverse the rejection of his nomination to contest for the Batu parliamentary constituency.
The suit, filed at the High Court on Wednesday morning, named election returning officer Anwar Md Zain and the Election Commission (EC) as respondents.
Anwar had rejected Chua’s nomination last Saturday (April 28), stating that election rules disqualified him on account of a previous RM2,000 fine imposed by the High Court last March where Chua was convicted of outraging the modesty of a police officer on duty by using foul language four years ago.
Chua, who has held the Batu parliamentary seat since 2008, sought a declaration that he is qualified to run for the seat in GE14 under Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution.
He also sought a declaration that he is entitled to contest and be nominated for the seat.
He said in the 13th general election held in 2013, the returning officer for the constituency had allowed him to file the nomination papers, despite a previous conviction and an RM2,000 fine.
Justice Nordin will decide on Friday whether to accept preliminary objections raised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Senior Federal Counsel Datuk Amarjit Singh, who represented the EC and its Returning Officer raised a preliminary objection to the case stating that the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear electoral matters.
“Electoral matter is a special jurisdiction. It should either be heard by the Chief Judge or a High Court judge nominated by the Chief Judge as the election judge to hear the case filed through an election petition,” he said.
Amarjit said this is provided under Section 33 of the Election Offences Act 1954, read together with Article 118 of the Federal Constitution, which provides for the method for challenging elections.
Tian Chua’s lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar, however, argued that his application was not challenging the elections at this stage.
“In this case, we are seeking a declaration on the legal status of Tian Chua. Is he disqualified or is he not disqualified to contest?” he said.
Meanwhile, Tian Chua’s lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar said all the case laws cited by Amarjeet were related to challenging election results.
“We are only questioning the legal status of Tian Chua,” he said, adding that his client was not challenging the action of the election officer.
“We want to know if I am legally allowed to contest or not” Chua told reporters outside the courtroom later.
The decision to disqualify Chua was made according to Section 7(1)(c) of the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, read together with Article 48(1)(e).
Anwar read the law which stated “not less than RM2,000” to mean Chua would only be qualified to contest should the fine be RM1,999.99 or less.
In contrast, the Shah Alam High Court which allowed Chua’s appeal to reduce the fine from RM3,000 to RM2,000, explicitly spelt out that the MP would only be disqualified if “the fine was RM2,001 and above, and not from RM2,000”.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia had in 2011 also ruled that Chua would remain as Batu MP and that the RM2,000 fine would not automatically remove him from his role.
Hundreds of people turned up at the court complex to show their support for Chua. Many chanted “reformasi” when they spotted the Opposition politician leaving the courthouse.
There are currently four candidates in the race for Batu, Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Dominic Lau, Azhar Yahya from PAS and two independent candidates, Prabakaran and Datuk VM Panjamothy.