Demosisto leader Agnes Chow on Monday won her legal challenge in the High Court over being barred from standing in a 2018 Legislative Council by-election – unseating the pro-democracy camp's eventual winner in the poll, Au Nok-hin, in the process.
In January last year, a returning officer for Hong Kong Island ruled that Chow wasn't fit to run for the Legco seat left empty when the group's Nathan Law was disqualified over the way he took his oath of office.
The returning officer cited Demosisto's earlier calls for self-determination for the Hong Kong people, which some pro-Beijing figures have likened to advocacy for independence.
But the High Court ruled that the election officer did not give Chow a fair opportunity to respond to the claim that based on the group's calls, she would be unlikely to uphold the Basic Law.
In handing down his decision, judge Anderson Chow said there was a “breach of the principle of natural justice or procedural fairness,” because the officer disqualified the Demosisto leader without giving her a reasonable opportunity to respond to doubts about her political stance.
The judge stressed that the right to be heard is “an important procedural safeguard which should not be lightly displaced".
The judge also nullified the result of the by-election, ruling that in light of the election petition win, Au – who was the camp's "plan B" for the poll – was not duly elected.
Outside the court, Agnes Chow said it was only a "partial victory".
"The judgement reaffirms the power of the returning officer to decide a candidate's political stance and to disqualify their basic right of getting involved in elections," she said.
"I won the election petition this time only because of procedural justice."
Au, meanwhile, said he had no regrets and the ruling shows that Hong Kong people do not accept such disqualifications.
"It was my pleasure and also my glory to fulfil the destiny of my life," he said.
Demosisto's Nathan Law was among six members of the pro-democracy side who were thrown out of the legislature following the elections in September 2016 because of invalid oaths.
Leung Kwok-hung, Lau Siu-lai, Edward Yiu, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching were also stripped of their seats following an interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing.