Federal Court Dismisses Ex-Kelantan Sultan’s Petitions

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 26 – The Regent of Kelantan assumed full power of the Sultan under the Laws of the Kelantan Constitution, once the ruler was incapacitated, the Federal Court ruled here today.

Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, heading a three-man panel, said the Kelantan Constitution also evisaged for the Regent to carry out the royal functions as a Sultan would have had, if His Royal Highness was not

“We are of the view that there can be only one individual attending to the affairs of the State of Kelantan, at any one time,” he said.

Therefore, Zulkefli said, Tuanku Ismail Petra Ibni Sultan Yahya Petra had no locus (legal standing) to refer questions for determination of the Federal Court concerning the Regent’s power and authority during a Sultan’s incapacitation.

The panel, which also comprises justices Datuk Md Raus Sharif and Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong, unanimously dismissed two petitions filed by Tuanku Ismail Petra after allowing a preliminary objection raised by counsel Tan Sri Cecil Abraham representing respondent, Sultan Muhammad V (Tuanku Muhammad Faris Petra) that his father did not have the jurisdiction to refer questions.

Tuanku Ismail Petra who filed the petitions respectively, on May 5 and June 22, this year, named Sultan Muhammad V and the Kelantan Government as respondents.

In the petitions, Tuanku Ismail Petra sought the opinion of the apex court to determine several questions of law on whether Sultan Muhammad V, then acting as the Regent of the state, among others, had the authority to remove and appoint any member of the Council of Succession.

Another question which Tuanku Ismail Petra sought the Federal Court to determine was whether Sultan Muhammad V as the then-regent, had the power to restrict Tuanku Ismail Petra’s movement to within Istana Mahkota, Kubang Kerian,

Sultan Muhammad V (Tuanku Muhammad Faris Petra) was appointed the Regent of Kelantan on May 24, last year, by the Council of Succession by reason of his father’s illness.

On Sept 13, Sultan Muhammad V was appointed the Sultan of Kelantan by the Council of Succession. Tuanku Ismail Petra has been incapacitated since May last year.

In his 33-page judgment, Zulkefli said Tuanku Ismail Petra could not exercise his powers as His Royal Highness under the Kelantan Constitution, pending ascension of the Regency while he was incapacitated.

“This is because due to the incapacitation of the petitioner (Tuanku Ismail Petra) as the then Sultan of Kelantan, it is the Regent of Kelantan and the Regent of Kelantan alone, who is to exercise the powers attributed to “His Royal Highness” under the Laws of the Constitution of Kelantan,” he said.

The judge said Tuanku Ismail Petra might only exercise such powers upon returning to Kelantan and assuming office as the Sultan of Kelantan.

“On the facts before us, the petitioner did not do so upon returning to the State of Kelantan on or about March 2010. In fact, the petitioner remains incapacitated and the first respondent (Sultan Muhammad V) continued to act as the Regent of Kelantan.

“In the light of the above, the petitioner is not permitted to exercise any power vested with “His Royal Highness” whilst there exists a Regency.

“The petitioner being incapacitated cannot be exercising such a power unless he has recovered from such incapacitation,” he said.

Zulkefli said there was no distinction between the powers exercised by Sultan Muhammad V when he was the Regent of Kelantan and the powers exercised by a reigning sultan, regardless of whether Sultan Muhammad V was appointed by the
Council of Succession or by the then-Sultan of Kelantan Tuanku Ismail Petra.

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