The Straits Times
Published on Nov 02, 2012

Hougang resident will not have to bear costs for by-election bid: Judge


THE Hougang resident who sought a High Court declaration on the calling of by-elections will not have to pay costs for her failed bid.

The questions raised in Madam Vellama Marie Muthu's application "concerned public law issues of general importance", said Justice Philip Pillai in a written judgement dated November 1.

The part-time cleaner also did not have a private interest in raising the issue of how seats vacated by Members of Parliament are filled, he added. Madam Vellama had asked the court to declare that the Prime Minister does not have "unfettered discretion" in deciding whether and when to call by-elections after former Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong vacated his seat in February.

Even though Madam Vellama failed in her bid, Justice Pillai noted that where legal questions of "genuine public concern" are raised, "it may be inappropriate to make a costs order against the applicant even where the judicial review is wholly unsuccessful".