M Ravi’s legal challenge against changes to Elected Presidency dismissed by High Court

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The court held that Mr Ravi had no legal standing to mount the challenge.

File photo of lawyer M Ravi. (Photo: Xabryna Kek)

SINGAPORE: A constitutional challenge filed by non-practising lawyer M Ravi against changes to the Elected Presidency was dismissed on Thursday (Jun 15) by the High Court, which found that he had no legal standing to mount the challenge.

Mr Ravi was ordered to pay S$6,000 in legal fees, as well as reimburse the Attorney-General’s Chambers for any other costs incurred.

Mr Ravi had filed an application in the High Court on May 22, arguing that the changes to the Elected Presidency, which reserves certain election cycles for particular racial groups, went against the Singapore Constitution.

In a Facebook post made in May summarising his legal arguments, Mr Ravi said the racial requirement in the upcoming Presidential Election and the hiatus-trigger status, was “discriminatory”. Under the changes, an election would be reserved for a particular racial group if no one from that racial group has been President for five continuous terms.

Mr Ravi said this “deprives citizens of the equal right to political participation, even if they possess the appropriate qualifications”.

The court gave Mr Ravi seven days to file an appeal against the outcome. Channel NewsAsia understands that he plans to do so.

NO LEGAL STANDING TO MOUNT CHALLENGE

The court found that Mr Ravi, who had filed the application in his capacity as a private citizen, had no legal standing to mount the challenge, citing a long-standing law that lays out three criteria.

In order to mount the challenge, applicants are required to fulfill at least one of the three criteria: They must have have a direct personal interest in the case, they must have suffered special damages to themselves, or if there are any serious illegalities present.  

Mr Ravi, the court found, did not meet this requirement.                    

In any event, Articles 19 and 19b in the Constitution, which states the eligibility criteria of the Elected Presidency, were legally effective, the court found; and not unconstitutional as claimed by Mr Ravi.

The Attorney-General’s Chambers were represented by Deputy Attorney-General Hri Kumar Nair. 

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