Federal court nine-man bench to hear stateless children cases

PUTRAJAYA: For the first time, a nine-member Federal Court bench will sit to hear the appeals in five court cases involving children who were born in Malaysia but could not be granted citizenship, on August 30 this year.

Lawyer Latheefa Koya, who is representing two of the children, told reporters that the matter was fixed for case management today before Federal Court deputy registrar Syahrin Jeli Bohari in chambers.

She said Syahrin had informed parties in the appeals that in light of the new directive by newly-appointed Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, a nine-man bench would be formed to hear the appeals.

Latheefa said the deputy registrar had vacated the earlier hearing dates fixed for July 23 and July 24 this year and re-scheduled the hearing to Aug 30.

On Sept 11 last year, the Federal Court had granted 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 first two cases involved a 20-year-old whose birth parents were 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 involved two boys, aged 17 and 16 years, both with unknown birth parents and who were separately adopted by two Malaysian couples.

Meanwhile, the fifth case involved 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.

Last week, Malanjum proposed forming a nine-member bench to hear constitutional cases and a seven-member panel for public interest cases.

In the past, only up to seven-member benches were constituted to hear cases in the Federal Court. — Bernama

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