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'Declare Peaceful Assembly Act 2010 unconstitutional'
KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih 3.0 co-chairman Datuk S. Ambiga and nine others have filed counter claims seeking the High Court to declare the Peaceful Assembly Act 2010 as unconstitutional.
The defendants, as alternative, are seeking the court to declare Section 6 of the Act as unconstitutional.
The group who filed the claims on June 8 via Messrs Tommy Thomas, also seeks general and aggravated damages, besides costs from the plaintiff, the Government of Malaysia.
On May 15, a senior federal counsel on behalf of the government and Attorney-General's Chambers, filed a suit against the defendants claiming special compensation amounting to RM122,000 as cost to repair the damaged police vehicles, other costs, interests and other relief deemed fit by the court.
In its statement of claims, the government, as the plaintiff, has named Ambiga, Maria Chin Abdullah, Zaid Kamarudin, Haris Fathillah Mohamed, K.Arumugam, S.Arul Prakkash, Wong Chin Huat, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Toh Kin Woon and Andrew Khoo as defendants.
The government is also seeking a declaration that the defendants as the organisers of Bersih 3.0, had violated Section 6 (2)(g) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, whereas they had the responsibility, among others, of ensuring that the gathering would not cause damage to public property.
In its claims, the government also states that the gathering around Dataran Merdeka turned unruly when the participants broke through the police barricades/barriers.
It says that on that day, the police were stationed around the area to ensure that the rally participants did not violate the order issued by the Magistrate's Court on April 26, which prohibited a gathering from being held at Dataran Merdeka and for the public not to be present there or to take part in any protest rally on April 28 until May 1, 2012.
In her statement of defence, among others, Ambiga relies on Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution which clearly stipulates her right to freedom of speech, right to assemble and right to move freely throughout Kuala Lumpur.
She also claims that police did not act in accordance with the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, both before and during the assembly.
She states further she had publicly said that at about 2.40pm on April 28, the sit-in or assembly had been concluded and members of the public should disperse.
Ambiga says police had willfully and deliberately started using water cannons and firing tear gas, an act of violence, against persons who were in the process of dispersing.
In the court, this morning, Justice Prasad Sandosham Abraham set July 18 for case management of the suit after senior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad, acting for the government, told the court that so far Ambiga, Maria Chin, Zaid, Arumugam, Arul Prakkash and Khoo had filed their respective statements of defence.
Azizan asked for at least a month to facilitate four others to file similar statements of defence and for the plaintiff to file a statement of replies. -- BERNAMA