Apex court upholds striking out of Gombak voters' suit against Azmin

Azmin had questioned the votes given by the 10 voters as their ballot papers had been destroyed by the Election Commission. (Photo by Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Yusuf/The Edge)

Azmin had questioned the votes given by the 10 voters as their ballot papers had been destroyed by the Election Commission. (Photo by Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Yusuf/The Edge)

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PUTRAJAYA (Sept 27): Ten Gombak voters cannot continue with their suit against their Member of Parliament, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, for purportedly, in concert with several others, causing the downfall of the Pakatan Harapan government in 2020.

The Federal Court on Tuesday (Sept 27) did not allow the voters, led by Affandy Abd Raof Faiz, to reinstate the suit, and affirmed the Court of Appeal's decision last April to dismiss the suit.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, who led the three-member bench, said they were not persuaded that the voters had passed the threshold under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act (CJA) for the apex court to hear the merits of the appeal.

“As this is a public interest case, we make no order as to costs,” said Azahar.

The other judges were Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Datuk Rhodzhariah Bujang.

The High Court dismissed Azmin’s application to strike out the suit in June last year, resulting in the minister successfully appealling to the appellate court to nullify the suit.

The voters, who were represented by K Shanmuga, Surendra Ananth and N Yohendra, wanted to pose four questions of law for the bench to consider, and to reinstate the suit.

Shanmuga told the apex court bench that this is not a simple case of the defendant, who is also a minister, breaching the election manifesto.

“This case involves the argument of Azmin doing something which he did not represent to the public as he had said, before the 14th general election, to reject Barisan Nasional and Umno, but now he is embracing the party or coalition," Shanmuga added.

The High Court, Shanmuga said, found that this matter should go for a full trial through oral evidence, and it was not proper to allow the case to be struck out.

“We submit that the questions of law are of public importance and of public advantage, and we say it meets the requirements under Section 96(a) of the CJA,” he added.

In the apex court for civil cases, the merits of an appeal are not automatically heard as permission has to be obtained, based on the questions of law posed.

The four questions of law are:

  • Whether an action for deceit and/or breach of fiduciary duties can be maintained by voters against an MP or a member of a State Legislative Assembly (collectively, an elected representative) for representations made by the said member personally to the voters?

 

  • Whether it is necessary in an action for deceit and/or breach of fiduciary duties by a voter against an elected representative, on the basis of untrue representations made by the elected representative personally to the voter, to show that the voter in question voted for the said elected representative?

 

  • Whether an elected representative's rights to freedom of association under Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution are subject to his fiduciary duties as an elected representative?

 

  • Whether an elected representative's right to freedom of association under Article 10(1)(c) of the Federal Constitution is a sufficient defence in law to an action for deceit or breach of fiduciary duties in relation to the conduct of an MP?

Azmin, who was represented by Mohd Nizamuddin Abdul Hamid, wanted the apex court to treat these questions carefully, as there was no difference between the personal representation made by the minister and the Pakatan manifesto.

Furthermore, he questioned the votes given by the 10 voters as their ballot papers had been destroyed by the Election Commission.

The 10 voters led by Affandy filed the suit in November 2020, where the 10 registered voters from the Gombak parliamentary constituency alleged deceit and breach of fiduciary duties by Azmin, through the "Sheraton Move" that caused the Pakatan government to collapse in February 2020.

Read also:
Ten voters go to Federal Court to appeal against CoA decision to strike out suit against Azmin Ali
CoA sets aside High Court dismissal of Azmin's bid to strike out Gombak voters' suit
Azmin Ali fails to strike out lawsuit against him by Gombak voters

Lam Jian Wyn