April 27 decision for activist's judicial review against immigration

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court should hear a judicial review application on a travel ban imposed on Maria Chin Abdullah (pix), eventhough the ban was lifted after two days, as it involves constitutional rights.

Lawyer Gurdial Singh, who represents Maria told the judge that the court still has the jurisdiction to hear the case, although the matter has become "academic".

"This court can proceed with the matter as it involves 'discretion'," he said. He said there is no assurance that this ban would not be imposed on Maria, in the future.

"There is no reason to 'blacklist' without giving her right to be heard," he said.

He said Section 59 of the Immigration Act, which states that no person and no member of a class of persons shall be given an opportunity of being heard before the minister or the director, violates fundamental rights.

He said Section 59 precludes the right to be heard, offends the principles of natural justice firmly embedded in the Article 5 and Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

"Constitutional provision always supercedes legislative provisions, and therefore section 59 is unconstitutional," he said.

High Court judge Datuk Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad will deliver her decision on the matter on April 27, this year.

In reply, Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan asked the court to dismiss the application on the grounds that the matter has now become academic and is an exercise of futility.

He said the reliefs sought are now rendered academic as the 'blacklisting' has since been lifted since May 17, 2016.

Shamsul said any person can check his or her status in the system created via the Immigration portal under "Immigration control status checking (SSPI)" for citizens, who wish to travel abroad.

In July 28, 2016, Maria had filed a judicial review against director general of Immigration and Minister of Home Affairs over a decision to blacklist her from travelling overseas, which was informed on the day she was scheduled to depart to South Korea, May 15, 2016.

Maria, who is the chairperson of Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) steering committee sought for an order to quash the decision and a declaration that the decision breach Constitution and therefore it is void.