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Peaceful Assembly Act: Court of Appeal declares Section 9(5) constitutional

Peaceful Assembly Act: Court of Appeal declares Section 9(5) constitutional
The court made the ruling after allowing the prosecution's appeal against the acquittal of Johor PKR executive secretary R. Yuneswaran on a charge of unlawfully organising a "Blackout 505" rally in 2013.
PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal on Thursday declared that Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 that punishes an organiser who failed to give the 10-day notice to police before a gathering, is constitutional.

Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif who chaired a three-panel member held that Section 9(5) was valid and enforceable.

"We are of the opinion that Section 9(5) is valid and does not violate Article 10 of the Federal Constitution," said Justice Md Raus who sat with Justices Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Datuk Zamani A. Rahim.

He said the court was unable to agree with the earlier ruling by the Court of Appeal on April 25, last year, in the case of Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, which declared Section 9(5) was unconstitutional.

Therefore, he said, the panel had to depart from the earlier ruling.
The court made the ruling after allowing the prosecution's appeal against the acquittal of Johor PKR executive secretary R. Yuneswaran on a charge of unlawfully organising a "Blackout 505" rally in 2013.

Yuneswaran, 28, was fined RM6,000 by the Sessions Court in Johor Bharu on Sept 26, 2013, which found him, as the organiser of the rally, guilty on the charge of failing to give prior notice of at least 10 days to the Southern Johor Bharu district police chief, on the event.

He was alleged to have committed the offence at the PKR office in Jalan Beladau 19, Taman Puteri Wangsa, Ulu Tiram, Johor, around 8.30pm on May 15, 2013.

On Aug 24 last year, however, he was acquitted by the Johor Bharu High Court which ruled that it was bound by a Court of Appeal decision in Nik Nazmi's case, which declared Section 9(5) of the PAA, unconstitutional.

The High Court also dismissed the prosecution's application to refer the constitutional questions to the Federal Court.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal upheld the Sessions Court's decision and set aside the ruling by the High Court.

"We have no reason to disturb the sentence by the Sessions Court. We affirm the conviction and the order of the lower court," said Justice Md Raus. Yuneswaran paid the fine.

Outside the court, Yuneswaran's lawyer R. Sivarasa told reporters that with this ruling the organiser can now be charged and punished under Section 9(5) if they failed to give the 10-day notice to police before a gathering.

He said the panel also had not answered two questions raised by counsel during the hearing of the appeal.

"Lawyers and the public will be confused because there are two conflicting judgments from the same court. One said unconstitutional, the other one said is constitutional, which one should we follow?" he said.