Saturday January 19, 2013
Trial over 2012 rally to proceed
By QISHIN TARIQ
KUALA LUMPUR: The trial of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over his involvement in the Bersih 3.0 rally will continue after the High Court ruled that the Peaceful Assembly Act does not contravene the Federal Constitution.
Justice Kamardin Hashim said Parliament had extensive and valid powers to regulate human rights, such as the right to organise and participate in a peaceful assembly, and at the same time to impose restrictions it deemed necessary in the interest of public order.
“Banning street protests as one of the forms of peaceful assembly without arms is necessary in a democratic society for the protection of morals and the rights and freedom of others,” he said in his grounds of judgment.
Justice Kamardin added that rights could not be absolute because they have to be balanced against one another, making necessary the placing of limits on the extent to which these rights were enjoyed.
“The prohibition imposed by Parliament is reasonable in view for the protection of the interest of the security of the nation and for maintaining of public order,” he said.
Justice Kamardin concluded that Sections 4(1)(c) and 4(2)(c) of the PAA neither violate nor contravene Article 10(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution (which guarantees the freedom of peaceful assembly).
In May 2012, Anwar, PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali and Rembau branch chief Badrul Hisham Shaharin were charged in the Sessions Court under the PAA with violating a court order by taking part in the Bersih 3.0 rally in Dataran Merdeka on April 28.
Anwar’s counsel Karpal Singh applied to strike out the charges against his client on the grounds that the restriction against the rally was unconstitutional as it contradicted Article 10 (2) of the Federal Constitution.
He argued that Section 4(1)(c) of the PAA prohibited assembly by way of street protests, but did not restrict it, and thus to use the Act to restrict would be ultra vires the Constitution.
On Jan 11, Attorney-General’s Chambers’ head of prosecution Datuk Abdul Wahab Mohamed, through a judicial notice, attempted to prove that the assembly was not a peaceful one and those involved should be prosecuted under the PAA.
Karpal told reporters that he would file an appeal against the decision by Monday, and would also apply to stay the trial pending the disposal of the appeal.