PUTRAJAYA — April 21, 2016: The Court of Appeal today dismissed former Langkawi Wanita Umno member Anina Saadudin’s appeal over her expulsion from the party, ruling that a political party’s decision, whether right or wrong, is not subject to review or appeal in the courts.
Justice Datuk David Wong Dak Wah, chairing a three-man bench, also held that Section 18C of the Societies Act clearly excluded the jurisdiction of the courts to hear or entertain disputes between members of a political party.
He pointed out that was the intention of Parliament in enacting the law that states that disputes between members of a political party must be resolved outside the court’s arena.
“To put it in plain and simple language, Section 18C means whatever decision, rightly or wrongly, of a political party is not subject to any form of review or appeal before the courts,” said Wong, who sat with justices Datuk Dr. Badariah Sahamid and Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal.
This is the understanding or contract agreed to by all members of a political party.
“To allow any challenge of the aforesaid understanding on the ground that it is unfair and unjust or breach of natural justice in the face of Section 18C would equate to this court to making or enacting law which, in our view, must remain always in the purview of Parliament.”
Thus, until such time that Section 18C has been declared unconstitutional, it remains good law and this court is duty bound to give effect to it.
However, the panel was of the view that there was no legal impediment to Anina to launch another action to challenge Section 18C as being ultra vires the Constititution.
The court also ordered Anina to pay RM10,000 costs to the respondents — Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and its executive secretary Datuk Ab. Rauf Yusoh.
Anina was appealing against the decision of the High Court which had struck out her suit against Adnan and Rauf after allowing the duo’s application
to strike out the suit.
On December 7 last year, High Court Judge S. Nantha Balan struck out Anina’s suit, ruling that it had no jurisdiction to hear her dispute in the party as it is clear that Section 18C does not permit the court to adjudicate on the dispute.
Anina filed the suit on last October 5 against Adnan and Rauf seeking, among others, an order that the two termination letters issued by Adnan were invalid and had no effect on her membership.
She lost her membership in the party ‘ipso facto’ when she commenced legal action against party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak on August 28 last year based on Clause 20.7 of the Umno constitution.
The clause states that a member who brings any party matter or membership rights to court before fully complying with party regulations will automatically lose his membership.
Lawyer Datuk Mohd. Hafarizam Harun represented Adnan and Rauf while Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla acted for Anina.
Haniff told reporters that he would seek his client’s instruction as to whether to file an appeal to the Federal Court or file a fresh suit to declare Section 18C unconstitutional. — Bernama