Federal Court adjourns stateless children appeal to July 23-24

PUTRAJAYA: The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) wants to get fresh instruction from the Home Ministry on the five court cases involving children who could not be granted citizenship though born in Malaysia.

Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan told the court that the AGC was seeking an adjournment for all matters pending fresh instructions from the ministry.

She requested for a month’s adjournment of the hearing of the appeals in the five cases.

The Federal Court granted the adjournment and rescheduled hearing of the appeals to July 23 and July 24.

The hearings had been set for yesterday and today before Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judge Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim and Tan Sri Aziah Ali.

Earlier, counsel Datuk Cyrus Das who is representing the parents of two teenage boys in two cases wanted the matter to proceed considering that the appeals had already been adjourned three times.

“I think, to say that to take instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs is too broad, they need to be more specific,” he said.

He said it was a matter of some urgency for some families as the children concerned were coming of age, 17 or l8 and would want to apply for their passport and driving licences.

Counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram who is representing the parents of two other children said he left it to the court to decide on whether to proceed or not with the appeal.

He also informed the court that he intended to make a representation to the Home Ministry.

Ranee Sreedharan, the lawyer for the fifth case said she was ready to proceed if the court wanted to hear the appeals today and was amenable if the court decided to postpone the matter.

On Sept 11, last year the Federal Court granted the appellants leave to appeal on several legal questions including whether the reference to blood or lineage was required under the Federal Constitution in determining the citizenship of the child.

The two cases where Sri Ram is the lead counsel involve a 20-year-old whose birth parents are unknown and was adopted by Malaysian parents, and an eight-year-old boy who was born to a Malaysian father and Thai mother who were not legally married when he was born.

The Court of Appeal last year rejected their appeals in respect to their citizenship bids after ruling that they should have also shown proof that they are not citizens of other countries.

Two other cases represented by Das and Raymond Mah involve two boys aged 17 and 16 years, both with unknown birth parents and who were separately adopted by two Malaysian couples.

Ranee’s client is a 13-year-old girl who successfully won her citizenship bid in the Court of Appeal but her matter was brought to the Federal Court when the government appealed.

Outside the court, Sri Ram told reporters that there were 20 citizenship cases pending at various stages.

The SFC is representing the Home Ministry, National Registration Department director-general, Birth and Deaths Malaysia chief registrar, Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Malaysian government. — Bernama

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