Judge recuses herself in cartoonist Zunar's travel ban review

KUALA LUMPUR: A High Court judge has recused herself from hearing a judicial review bid by cartoonist Zunar who is challenging his travel ban by the Immigration Department last year.

High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Hanipah Farikullah allowed an application by Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee SM Anwarul Haque (pix), that she be recused from hearing the case.

"The application of leave will be heard before a new judge," Senior Federal Counsel Mohamad Rizal Fadzil told reporters after the parties met the judge in chambers on Wednesday.

He said the deputy registrar would fix a hearing date later.

Zunar's lead counsel Latheefa Koya said she has applied for the recusal because Justice Hanipah had decided on two similar applications involving similar issues of facts and law.

On July 27, Justice Hanipah refused a judicial review bid by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua after ruling that the Immigration director-general had the power to bar a person from travelling overseas.

On April 15, she also denied leave to activist Hishamuddin Md Rais to initiate judicial review proceedings against his travel restriction order.

Latheefa said the Attorney-General did not object to the recusal application.

In his court papers filed on Dec 7 last year, Zunar named the Immigration Department director-general, Home Minister and the Government as respondents.

He wants the court to strike out the ban order issued by the respondents, which was communicated to him verbally on Oct 17 last year.

Zunar was supposed to go to Singapore on Oct 17, 2016 to attend a forum at the National University of Singapore, using a valid passport and flight ticket.

He said he filed the legal action because his constitutional rights had been violated.

He is seeking for a declaration that the travel ban violated Article 5(1) (on personal liberty), Article 8 (equality) and Article 9 (freedom of movement) of the Federal Constitution, and that the order should be struck out as it was invalid and unconstitutional.


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