Streram mulls appeal against striking out of RM7.6m misfeasance suit

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 1): PKR candidate for Rantau constituency, Dr S Streram, is considering an appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision that ordered the striking out of his RM7.6 million misfeasance suit that he filed against the Election Commission (EC) and its returning officer.

Counsel Sathia Stella, who acted for Streram, said they had until April 20 to decide whether they want to file a leave to appeal notice to the Federal Court.

The matter came up before High Court Judge Datuk Sofian Abdul Razak today, and Sathia told reporters that she had informed the judge about the Court of Appeal's decision on March 20.

Sathia stressed that the issue involved in this case was novel and important as the apex court needs to decide whether EC and its returning officer, Amino Agus Suyub, is categorised as a public officer pursuant to Article 132(3)(d) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 132(3)(d) of the Federal Constitution provides that the public service shall not be taken to comprise the office of member of any commission or council established by this Constitution or any corresponding commission or council established by the Constitution of a State.

On March 20, the Court of Appeal allowed the EC and Amino's application to strike out the suit filed by Streram on the basis that Amino is not a public officer.

The court adopted the grounds of the case in the suit filed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Citizens Declaration coordinator Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan against former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak, where the courts subsequently ruled that Najib was not a public officer just before the 14th general election.

The appellate court's decision on March 20 had overturned the Kuala Lumpur High Court's dismissal of the EC and Amino's striking out application last September.

High Court Judicial commissioner Darryl Goon Siew Chye had ruled that there is no case law to say that an election officer is not a public officer. He also ordered the matter to proceed to trial and directed EC and Amino to file their defence.

Streram had, on May 7 last year, filed the misfeasance in public office suit against Amino and the EC over their actions, which resulted in him being unable to contest in the 14th general election.

He had alleged in his statement of claim that the defendants failed in their responsibilities under the Election Commission Act 1958, which resulted in him not being able to contest the state seat, despite having obtained an appointment letter from his party.

Consequently, former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan won the Rantau seat uncontested.

Streram had also said the EC's failure to accept his nomination had violated his constitutional rights to contest in the last general election, hence he is seeking RM5 million in general damages, RM2.6 million in exemplary damages, and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.