PUTRAJAYA: The amendment made to a provision in the Federal Constitution had terminated the role of the Yang-di-Pertuan Agong from that of a constitutional monarch to that of a mere rubber stamp, the Federal Court heard today.

Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram submitted before a seven-member bench that the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 was unconstitutional as it became a law pursuant to the unconstitutional amendment to Article 66 of the Federal Constitution.

“Royal assent is an executive act performed by the King and its dispensation cuts across the basic constitutional function of the monarch,“ he said at the hearing of a constitutional reference brought by Port Dickson Member of Parliament, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to challenge the validity of the NSC Act.

In 1994, Article 66 was amended stating that a bill shall become law if not assented to within 30 days after it was presented to the King, at the expiry of such period.

Sri Ram, who represented Anwar, said the requirement for royal assent is a control mechanism and Parliament had violated the basic structure following the amendment.

“Any law, including a law amending the Constitution is invalid if it violates the basic structure of the Constitution.

“The amendment to the Constitution was unnecessary as the King must give his assent to make a bill into law on the advice of the minister as required under Article 40 (1) of the Federal Constitution,” he added.

Sri Ram said the 30-day period that a bill would automatically become law was an eyewash and the amendment was Hollywood and a waste of parliamentary time.

Senior federal counsel, Alice Loke Yee Ching countered that the amendment did not violate the basic structure of the Federal Constitution.

She said the amendment merely reaffirmed the position that the King does not have discretion to refuse assent.

“The amendment was made to stipulate the period in which the bill becomes law if not assented to by the King,” Loke said, adding that it was expedient to provide so in the event such an eventuality happened.

She said the NSC Act was enacted for the purpose of strengthening measures to guard and maintain the sovereignty of the country and national security.

The NSC came into force on Aug 1, 2016 pursuant to Clause 4A of Article 66 after it failed to receive royal assent.

On March 14, this year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court allowed Anwar’s application under Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 to refer the matter to the Federal Court for determination on two constitutional questions.

Anwar had filed the originating summons in 2016 to challenge the constitutionality of the NSC, claiming that its implementation was unconstitutional. He had named the NSC and the government as defendants.

The bench led by Chief Justice Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat reserved the court’s decision to a date to be fixed. — Bernama