AGC seeks legal costs against resident in Hougang by-election case
by Kimberly Spykerman Updated 10:11 PM Oct 08, 2012
SINGAPORE - The Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) is seeking legal costs against Vellama Marie Muthu, the Hougang resident who sought to have the High Court declare that the Prime Minister does not have "unfettered discretion" over whether and when to call a by-election.
The AGC is represented by Senior Counsel David Cheong, while Madam Vellama is represented by Mr M Ravi.
Both parties met Justice Philip Pillai in chambers today.
In a press statement on Monday evening, a spokesman for the AGC said: "As the applicant was unsuccessful in her summons, AGC sought costs against her in accordance with the general legal principle that the winning party is generally entitled to legal costs. This general principle applies in public law proceedings as well."
Madam Vellama had initiated the case in March, after former Hougang Member of Parliament Yaw Shin Leong vacated his post.
The High Court had dismissed her bid on Aug 1.
The AGC said that on at least two occasions, after the writ of election was issued and the by-elections for Hougang SMC completed in May 2012, it had invited Madam Vellama to discontinue her proceedings, but she rejected both invitations. This led to further costs being incurred.
She also applied for her statement to be amended, and for discovery and cross-examination orders to be made against the Prime Minister.
Mr M Ravi has argued that no order should be made against Madam Vellama on the grounds that she had won two out of the four applications filed when her Judicial Review application at the leave stage was a success.
He added that Justice Pillai had allowed Madam Vellama to proceed with the open court hearing.
On this point, the AGC clarified that the fact that leave was initially granted for her to proceed does not change its position on seeking legal costs.
"The grant of leave is made at a very preliminary stage of the proceedings without considering the substantive merits of the case in detail," the AGC said in the statement.
According to Mr Ravi, he has submitted that Madam Vellama should be granted a Protective Cost Order to prevent a lay-litigant from being stifled by punitive costs in cases where Constitutional Rights are at stake.
The matter is now fixed for further hearing on Oct 16.