Election Courts not interested in justice

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Malaysians are justifiably disappointed and disillusioned with the election courts. They are horrified with the decisions of the courts, which have failed to address the substantive issues in the litigation.

People queuing up to collect post-election payouts in Penang. The yellow cardboard lists down the 10 seats won by the BN in Penang.
People queuing up to collect post-election payouts in Penang. The yellow cardboard lists down the 10 seats won by the BN in Penang. The payouts were made on three consecutive days at a few locations on the island.

The litigants went to court to seek redress because the election was not free and fair. They were convinced that they were robbed of their victory through manipulation, cheating and fraud. These are the issues that should have been investigated by the Election Courts in order to arrive at a just decision. This is why they took their grievance to the Election Courts.

But the courts chose to turn a blind eye to justice and perpetuated a wrong that was crying for a remedy. The courts have thus undermined the voters’ confidence in these courts.

It is grossly unfair that the courts should dismiss these cases on technical grounds. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that justice is all about fairness – not technicalities. This important element in redressing a wrong cannot – and should not – be sacrificed on flimsy and unconvincing grounds.

All 19 cases thus far have been dismissed on procedural grounds. The petitions were rejected on the basis that the petitions had failed to comply with several regulations in accordance with Rule 9 of the Election Petition Rules 1954 and for failing to satisfy regulation 15 of the Election Petition Rules 1954.

This is ridiculous. What about the substantive issues which caused these petitions to be filed in the first place?

Couldn’t the Election Courts grant leave for the petitioners to rectify the procedural defects so that the court is able to render justice to these litigants? This is expected of a court that is concerned with justice and nothing else.

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By dismissing their petitions outright on technical grounds, the Election Courts have unjustly sanctified these fraudulent election results. A wrong is strangely permitted to exist without remedy – with the sanction of the court. This is totally unacceptable.

To compound this issue, the courts have granted exorbitant costs. It appears these courts are punishing the petitioners for filing their cases. Aren’t the courts supposed to be arbitrators in issues involving right and wrong? Then, why are these courts punishing these litigants?

There is a rumour in circulation that the courts have been instructed to dismiss all election petitions on technical grounds. Is there any truth to this rumour? Time will either confirm or debunk this rumour when all the petitions have been heard.

But, in the meantime, Malaysians are thoroughly appalled at the turn of events in our Election Courts.

P Ramakrishnan
Aliran executive committee
1 August 2013

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