KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has dismissed the judicial review bid by Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah challenging on her travel ban, ruling that it is not reviewable.
Justice Nik Hasmat Nik Mohamad held that the decisions of the Immigration director-general and Home Minister in imposing travel bans were not reviewable as stipulated under Section 59A of the Immigration Act.
“It is very clear. There shall not be any judicial review for the decision made by the Immigration director-general or the Home Minister except for procedural non-compliance.
“The legislation does not allow the decision of both respondents to be questioned or reviewable unless there is procedural non-compliance,” she said in her judgment Thursday.
Justice Nik Hasmat also said that the application had become academic as the decision to blacklist Maria from travelling overseas was lifted since May 17, 2016.
“The travel ban was lifted two days after she was denied entry,” she said.
Maria was informed of the ban shortly before she was to board a flight to South Korea on May 15 last year at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
Justice Nik Hasmat said there was no breach of constitutional provisions or principles of natural justice.
“There is no provision in the Immigration Act for any right to be heard or right to be informed of the reasons (for imposing travel ban),” she said.
She said the law did not confer an obligation on the part of the minister to give reasons relating to the travel ban imposed on Maria.
On personal liberty, Justice Nik Hasmat held Maria is still free to move in the country and free to earn her livelihood, adding that travelling overseas was a privilege.
She said the Government has the discretion over the issuance of passports and restrictions to be imposed on passports.
There was no order as to costs.
In an immediate response, Maria said she was disappointed with the ruling.
Her lead counsel Datuk Gurdial Singh Nijar said they would file an appeal, as a citizen deprived of the right to challenge a decision made by the Executive would imply that “it is parliamentary supremacy”.
“We have separation of powers. Judiciary must check if the Executive has exceeded its powers. If a citizen can’t have (this) right, it is not rule of law, it can create a constitutional crisis,” added Gurdial.
He said the requirement to travel abroad is important in order to interact with the global world for various purposes.
Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan acted for the respondents.
In her application for leave, Maria had named the Immigration Department director-general and the Home Minister as respondents.
Maria said the authorities failed to take into account that she was travelling to South Korea to attend a human rights conference and receive an award for Bersih 2.0.
From The Star Online