PUTRAJAYA, Feb 19 — The Federal Court today allowed Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah to appeal against a travel ban imposed on her three years ago.
A five-man panel led by Justice Datuk Seri Balia Yusof Wahi, in a unanimous decision, granted her leave to appeal.
The two other judges on the panel were Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.
Three questions of law were posed for the Federal Court’s determination in the appeal.
They are: Whether section 3 (2) of the Immigration Act 1959 empowers the director-general to unfettered discretion and whether the director-general can impose the travel ban for reasons that impinge on the democratic rights of citizens, such as criticising the government.
Whether section 59 of the Immigration Act (which excludes the right to be heard) is valid and constitutional.
Whether section 59A of the Immigration Act, which ousts judicial review, is valid and constitutional in the light of the cases in Semenyih Jaya Sdn Bhd vs Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Hulu Langat and another and M. Indira Gandhi vs Pengarah Jabatan Agama Islam Perak.
Maria, who is a former Bersih 2.0 chairman, filed a judicial review to challenge the Immigration Department director-general’s decision to bar her from travelling to South Korea on May 15, 2016, to receive an award for Bersih 2.0.
However, the travel ban was lifted on May 17, 2016, two days after she was denied entry.
She lost her case at the High Court and Court of Appeal, respectively on May 18, 2017, and May 25 last year.
High Court judge Datuk Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad, in her ruling, had held that Maria’s application had become academic since the ban had been lifted and the decisions of the Immigration Department director-general and Home Minister in imposing travel bans were not reviewable as stipulated under section 59A of the Immigration Act.
Maria’s counsel, Datuk Gurdial Singh Nijar, told reporters that they were allowed to revisit previous Federal Court rulings which gave the Immigration director-general alone the authority to stop citizens from travelling abroad.
Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan appeared for the Immigration Department director-general and Home Minister. — Bernama