She also sought the court to order the Prime Minister to call a by-election in Hougang within 3 months or any reasonable time which the court sees fit.
The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), acting for the Government, then appealed Pillai’s decision.
On 12 May, Vellama, through her lawyer M Ravi, offered to withdraw her application after the president issued the Writ of Election, triggering a by-election in Hougang.
However, she rescinded her offer shortly after the AGC made comments to the Straits Times newspaper which was seen as “intimidation” by Vellama. The AGC was reported to have said that “Vellama risked being penalised in costs” if she proceeded with her application.
Mr Ravi then withdrew the offer saying that his client would not 'bow down to veiled threats of costs', according to the Straits Times. M Ravi also said that the matter is of public interest and that his client is proceeding with the application.
Two days before the AGC’s appeal against Pillai’s decision was to be heard at the Court of Appeal, the AGC decided to withdraw its appeal. It gave as reason that there is “no case to be heard” now that the Hougang by-election has been called.
During the hearing before Chief Justice (CJ) Chan Sek Keong, Justice Andrew Phang and Justice VK Rajah, the CJ had remarked that there “was no substratum” to the substantive case. This drew a vigorous objection from M Ravi who said that the hearing that day was not about the substantive case but about the AGC’s appeal and the issue of costs, which Vellama had sought from the AGC. Thus, it was improper for the CJ to comment that there was, in effect, no case to be heard when the case was yet to be heard and decided by the High Court.
In its notice, on 18 May, for the date of the High Court hearing, the Court Registrar informed M Ravi that the case will now be heard in chambers, instead of open court as Pillai had ordered.
M Ravi wrote to the Registrar to seek clarification on the change.
“We are somewhat surprised that the open court hearing is now fixed in chambers,” M Ravi said in his letter, “when Justice Pillai had directed on 3rd April 2012 that the matter be heard in open court.”
“Apart from the directions by Justice Pillai, Order 53 [of the Rules of Court] mandates that substantive hearings are held in open court and we respectfully wish to highlight that your directions are therefore not in accordance with the Rules of Court.”
**Update [18 May, 5pm]: The registrar has confirmed that the case will be held in open court, not in chambers, on the 28th and 29th of June, at 10am. The Registrar has clarified that the original notification sent out to the parties involved - that the case will be heard in chambers - was a mistake.