KUALA LUMPUR: BERSIH is legal.
The High Court here yesterday quashed the declaration by the home minister that the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) is an unlawful society, rendering a moral victory to the movement.
Judge Datuk Rohana Yusuf in her written judgement said the declaration by Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein on July 1 last year was "tainted" and "irrational" and against the Federal Constitution.
"In my view the decision to declare Bersih unlawful is tainted with irrationality and it was made without taking into account relevant facts."
Justice Rohana said Bersih co--chairperson Datuk S. Ambiga was also granted an audience with the Agong on July 5 even after the Bersih 2.0 rally was declared illegal by the Home Minister.
"It would be unreasonable for a society to be found unlawful for serious reasons like being used for a purpose prejudicial to public order and national security, on July 1, 2011, and then no longer so on July 5, 2011," she said.
"It cannot be the case that one week after that such reason is no longer valid or applicable.
"The declaration should be lifted accordingly and the decision to outlaw Bersih impinges on the right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and should not be taken in just a lackadaisical manner.
"The ground of irrationality has been accepted as a ground to quash an administrative decision. It is my view the impugned decision is liable to be quashed," she said adding that the Home Minister also made another public statement, this time to allow the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28.
Justice Rohana ruled that Bersih was a society within the ambit of Section 2 of the Societies Act 1966 and it can exist as a society under the act although it is not registered.
She said no charges were also brought against any Bersih leaders for any offences under the Act. Ambiga and 13 others filed for judicial review on July 8 last year after Bersih 2.0 was declared illegal and named the Home Minister, Inspector General Police and the government as respondents.
Twelve members of the steering committee including Datuk A. Samad Said, Maria Chin Abdullah, Zaid Kamarudin, K. Arumugam, Andrew Khoo and Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa were present in court yesterday.
Counsel K. Shanmuga represented the group.
Meanwhile, senior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad said he would consult the Attorney General on filing an appeal.