Court orders Putrajaya to answer to teen’s citizenship lawsuit

Navin Moorthy won the first round in his legal fight to be recognised as a Malaysian citizen after the High Court on June 20, 2014, rejected the government’s bid to strike out his lawsuit. — Reuters pic
Navin Moorthy won the first round in his legal fight to be recognised as a Malaysian citizen after the High Court on June 20, 2014, rejected the government’s bid to strike out his lawsuit. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Navin Moorthy crossed his first legal hurdle to be recognised as a Malaysian today after a High Court here rejected Putrajaya’s bid to strike out the 16-year-old boy’s lawsuit against the government.

Instead, High Court Justice Datuk Hue Siew Kheng ordered the government to answer to the merits of Navin application demanding for his citizenship, apart from dismissing its application to strike out the case.

According to Navin’s lawyer Annou Xavier, Hue ruled out the Home Ministry’s application stating that “this is not clear cut case”.

“Navin is happy ... it is like a birthday gift... he will be celebrating his 16th birthday next month,” the lawyer told reporters today after briefing his client.

Hue had earlier heard submissions from both parties in chambers and ordered the government to pay RM3,000 in cost.

“The judge has ordered the government to filed an affidavit in reply within 14 days from today,” said Annou, adding that case management has been set for July 23.

Navin, 16, is suing the Director-General of the National Registration Department, the Home Ministry and the federal government over his citizenship status through his father, Moorthy Ramiah Pillai.

In his submissions filed last December, the teenager claimed that he was initially issued a birth certificate that listed him as a citizen when he was born on July 8, 1998, but found that his status was later changed to “Bukan Warganegara” or non-citizen.

Navin, who was born to a Malaysian father and Filipino mother, is also listed as a citizen in his Malaysian passport issued by the Immigration Department.

His businessman father, Moorthy, had applied twice with the NRD for his son’s citizenship, but claims that both applications were rejected by the Home Ministry.

Navin is seeking a declaration that he is a Malaysian citizen under Articles 14 and/or 15A of the Federal Constitution, and that he be issued a birth certificate and MyKad stating that he is a citizen.

Annou said today that federal counsel Maisarah Juhari, who is representing the government in the case, had argued in chambers that Navin’s application is without basis as the latter was born out of wedlock.

“They cited Schedule 2 of the Federal Constitution where in order to qualify for a citizenship, [the] parent must be married... stating “parents” under Article 14 is taking to mean individuals who are lawfully married,” he said.

Navin’s lawyers, however, stressed that the there is no reason for the government not to register the teenager as a citizen, citing Article 15A of the Federal Constitution that provides special powers to the federal administration to register anyone under 21 years of age as a citizen.

Annou had previously stated that while Malaysia has not drawn up any laws that adopt provisions under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), it is still bound by the principles of the convention as the country had already ratified it in 1995.