KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here dismissed today Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s constitutional challenge against the controversial National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 on a technical point, his lawyer confirmed.

Latheefa Koya, one of the lawyers who represented the PKR de facto leader, said the judge agreed with the government lawyer’s preliminary objection that the High Court has no jurisdiction to decide on the validity of the law.

“The court says the High Court doesn’t have the power to strike down the Act on the basis that it should go by leave to the Federal Court. You need to get leave from the Federal Court before it is struck down,” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.

Latheefa said lawyers from both sides had not gone into the merits of Anwar’s lawsuit, adding that Anwar’s legal team had argued that the High Court has the powers to invalidate an unconstitutional law.

“We are saying this should come under Article 4(1) of the Federal Constitution, which says the court has power to strike down any legislation or provision if it is inconsistent with the Constitution,” she said.

She explained that Anwar’s legal team contends that the NSC Act is unconstitutional as it had skipped the process of getting royal assent before coming into force, besides being an ordinary law that cannot disregard constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental liberties as it was not enacted under Article 149 of the Federal Constitution.

She said the Attorney-General’s Chambers asked for legal costs of RM20,000, but Anwar’s lawyer had argued that no punitive cost should be imposed as the lawsuit was on a matter of public interest.

High Court judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah finally fixed RM3,000 in costs, she said.

“We will definitely appeal,” Latheefa said.

Just a day after the NSC Act came into force on August 1, Anwar filed a lawsuit to ask the courts to declare the law unconstitutional as it came into force without royal assent and was in breach of constitutional rights.

Anwar, who is currently serving a five-year jail term for sodomy, also filed an injunction against the NSC in an attempt to stop it from taking any actions under the NSC Act 2016.

The NSC Act did not receive express royal assent and was gazetted without amendments despite the Conference of Rulers saying last February that some of the provisions should be refined.

The NSC Act allows the National Security Council — which would be chaired by the prime minister — to take command of the country’s security forces and impose strict policing of areas deemed to face security risks.

Malaysia’s three law associations — the Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association — expressed concern last January about the law concentrating “enormous” executive and emergency powers in the NSC and in the prime minister.

By The Malay Mail Online