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Apex Court grants leave to appeal in citizenship for kids born overseas to M’sian mothers’ case

Apex Court grants leave to appeal in citizenship for kids born overseas to M’sian mothers’ case

PUTRAJAYA: Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) and six Malaysian mothers have obtained leave to proceed with their appeal against a Court of Appeal’s ruling which denied automatic citizenship to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses.

The Federal Court three-member panel led by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim also granted the leave to appeal application brought by an Indian-born Mahisha Sulaiha Abdul Majeed, who is also seeking to be recognised as a Malaysian citizen.

This was after senior federal counsel Liew Horng Bin and senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly @ Arwi appearing for the government in Family Frontiers’ case and Mahisha case respectively informed the court that they were not objecting to the applications.

Justice Abang Iskandar who sat with Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan allowed the leave applications with three questions of law to be deliberated and decided by the Federal Court for both cases.

Meanwhile, the court disallowed the government’s application to include three other legal questions saying that the government is not an aggrieved party.

In civil cases, litigants must first obtain leave before they can proceed with the appeals to the Federal Court.

Among the questions was whether a person who was born outside the Federation to a Malaysian mother is a citizen of Malaysia by operation of law pursuant to Article 14(1)(b) read with Part II Section 1(b) of the Second Scheduled of the Federal Constitution.

On Aug 5 this year, the Court of Appeal in a 2-1 majority decision overturned a High Court decision which ruled that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses were entitled to automatic Malaysian citizenship.

The Court of Appeal had allowed the appeal by the government, Home Ministry and National Registration Department (NRD) director-general to set aside the Sept 9, 2021, High Court’s landmark decision.

Family Frontiers and the six women who are married to foreigners have filed an originating summons in the High Court seeking for their overseas-born children to have the right to become Malaysian citizens.

They also want a court order for all relevant government agencies, including the National Registration Department, Immigration Department and Malaysian embassies, to issue documents relating to citizenship (including passports and identity cards) to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses.

Meanwhile in Mahisha’s case, the Court of Appeal, on the same day, had dismissed her appeal against the 2020 High Court’s decision in rejecting the lawsuit she had filed seeking a declaration that she is entitled to be a Malaysian citizen.

Mahisha, 25, who was born to a Malaysian mother and Indian national father in India, had filed her suit via originating summons, naming the National Registration Department director-general, the home minister and the Malaysian government as respondents.

In today’s proceedings conducted online, a team of lawyers led by Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar represented Family Frontiers and the mothers while a team of lawyers led by Datuk Dr Cyrus Das for Mahisha.

Lawyers Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, A. Surendra Ananth, Khoo Suk Chyi and Wong Ming Yen appeared as amicus curiae for the Bar Council while lawyer Tay Kit Hoo held a watching brief for the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

Lawyer Denise Lim held a watching brief for the Association of Women Lawyers (AWL), Women’s Centre for Change (WCC), Sisters in Islam (SIS) and Justice for Sisters (JFS). – Bernama