SFC: Local inquiry is proper forum for delineation complaints

PUTRAJAYA: The proper forum for voters to raise complaints of adequacies of details concerning recommendation for delineation of a constituency is at a local inquiry conducted by the Election Commssion (EC) and not through the court, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan argued that Section 5 of the 13th Schedule of the Federal Constitution gave voters the right to raise representations at the local inquiry.

She said the relevant information required by activist Haris Fathillah Mohd Ibrahim to enable him to exercise his right to make representations on delineation of constituencies could be viewed in the proposed recommendation which would be available for inspection at the designated location.

"Haris cannot bring a legal challenge on behalf of other voters to request for details from the EC such as the proposed recommendation of the delineation exercise, maps of proposed constituency and reasons for the proposed change."

Suzana submitted that Haris's rights were only confined to the parliamentary constituency of Petaling Jaya Selatan and the state constituency of Bukit Gasing, where he is a registered voter.

Haris, 57, is appealing against a Kuala Lumpur High Court's dismissal of his application on June 11, last year for a declaration that he and other voters had the right and wanted the EC to furnish them with the details in its website.

Lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar submitted that Haris had genuine interest in the subject matter because he is a citizen of the country and a registered voter.

He said his client wanted the details to enable him to make an effective representation to the proposed recommendation of the delineation exercise.

He said Haris's right to an effective representation would be illusory because voters were given one month to submit their representations after publication of the delineation notice.

"Appellant (Haris) would have to make himself physically present at the designated locations in other constituencies in order to know the proposed changes to those constituencies," said Malik.

Justice Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat who chaired the three-man panel deferred the decision to a date yet to be fixed. — Bernama