Maria Chin fails to challenge Sosma detention, Federal court dismisses appeal

KHAIRAH N. KARIM

PUTRAJAYA: Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah has failed in her bid to challenge the legality of her detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

A five-man Federal Court panel, led by newly-appointed Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, made the decision after dismissing Maria’s appeal against a High Court order dismissing her habeas corpus application over her 10-day detention under the controversial Act.

Ahmad, in delivering the unanimous ruling today, said there was no merit in the appeal.

The others who also presided were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Zainun Ali, Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim and Datuk Balia Yusuf Wahi.

Earlier, lawyer Datuk Gurdial Singh Nijar who acted for Maria argued that the case was of public interest and needed to be heard in court on the limits of Sosma and how it applies even after the release.

“The question is, was Maria’s detention legal or not? Because that is the essence of the application.

“The High Court ruled that the application was academic and it could not decide on the case and even if we agree with that, the detaining authorities should justify the legality of the detention but there was no answer to that,” he said.

Gurdial added that the High Court ought to have considered hearing the matter but it had failed to do so.

Meanwhile senior federal counsel Abaszafree Mohd Abbas in his submissions said the application that was made for the release of Maria became academic once she was released and the court could not decide on the relief that had been sought.

On Nov 29, last year, High Court judge Datuk Nordin Hassan struck out Maria’s habeas corpus application after finding that the application was academic.

Nordin ruled that it was no longer necessary for the court to decide on the merits after Maria was release from a 30-day detention the day before (Nov 28).

In the application, Maria, 61, named Bukit Aman’s classified Crimes Investigations unit head Superintendent Tham Lai Kuan, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the Home Minister and the government as respondents.

She filed the application on Nov 22, last year at the Kuala Lumpur High Court registry, together with a certificate of urgency and an affidavit in support for her immediate release, signed by her eldest son, Azumin Mohamad Yunus, 24.

Under Sosma, Maria could be held for a total of 28 days without trial plus two days without representation, as provided under the Act.

Maria was released on the 11th day of her detention, a day before her habeas corpus hearing challenging her detention.