Tagged: Mandatory orders

Bukit Brown Cemetery: You Can Sue, but You Won’t Win

A statue of a sepoy guarding a tomb in Bukit Brown Cemetery

A statue of a sepoy guarding a tomb in Bukit Brown Cemetery. (Photograph © 2011 Jack Tsen-Ta Lee.)

Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Assistant Professor of Law
School of Law, SMU

THE CAUSE CÉLÈBRE that is Bukit Brown Cemetery has galvanized numerous civil society groups into calling for its preservation. They are responding to the Ministry of National Development’s decision to build a road across the historic burial ground to ease traffic congestion along Lornie Road and the Pan Island Expressway during peak hours, and to allow for future traffic growth.

Can an application be made to the High Court for judicial review against the MND to prevent it from constructing the planned eight-lane highway? This is a question of administrative law – the branch of law relating to how one sues the Government when it is alleged to have acted unlawfully. The remedies that might be sought include a quashing order to cancel the original decision, and a mandatory order to require the MND to reconsider its decision, relying on the correct legal principles. Continue reading

Hougang By-election Case: The State of Play

A view of the Supreme Court Building with Parliament House in the foreground

A view of the Supreme Court Building (with disc) with Parliament House in the foreground. (By Smuconlaw (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via the Wikimedia Commons) On 9 April 2012 the High Court, which sits in the building, issued the grounds of its decision in the Vellama d/o Marie Muthu v Attorney-General, the Hougang by-election case.

Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Assistant Professor of Law
School of Law, SMU

 

ON 9 APRIL, Justice Philip Pillai, sitting in the High Court, released the grounds for his decision for granting leave – that is, permission – for Mdm Vellama Marie Muthu’s judicial review application in the Hougang by-election case. She had applied for a declaration that the Prime Minister does not have unfettered discretion when deciding whether or not a by-election should be called in Hougang Single Member Constituency, and a mandatory order requiring the PM to advise the President to call a by-election within three months or some other reasonable time determined by the court.

A mandatory order is a type of prerogative order. Prerogative orders, formerly called prerogative writs, were so called because at first they could only be issued at the prerogative of the British Crown. However, by the end of the 16th century, any aggrieved citizen could ask for them to be issued.

An application for one or more prerogative orders is made pursuant to Order 53 of the Rules of Court, and is a two-stage process. The hearing before Justice Pillai was the first stage. Here, what the applicant had to do was to seek leave to apply for a mandatory order. Why is this stage necessary? As the judge pointed out, it is “intended to be a means of filtering out groundless or hopeless cases at an early stage, and its aim is to prevent a wasteful use of judicial time and to protect public bodies from harassment (whether intentional or otherwise) that might arise from a need to delay implementing decisions, where the legality of such decisions is being challenged”.[1] Continue reading