Ruling on transgender may be overturned on technicality

Source: The Star Online

PUTRAJAYA: The ruling which declared criminalising cross-dressing as unconstitutional may be overturned on a technicality, with the Negri Sembilan government arguing it was filed prematurely.

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who acted for the state government, submitted that the suit by three transgenders had been filed in response to them being charged by the Syariah Court.

“There is no decision yet that is amendable to judicial review, you can’t scuttle a criminal proceeding that is just about to begin,” he told the Federal Court.

The trio had filed a judicial review at the Seremban High Court to obtain a declaration that Section 66 of the Syariah Criminal (Negri Sembilan) Enactment 1992 was invalid as it was not in line with fundamental freedom. Read more

Court reserves judgment on non-Muslims as Syariah lawyers

Source: The Star Online

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has reserved its judgment over whether a non-Muslim is allowed to practise as a Syariah lawyer.

Court of Appeal president Justice Md Raus Sharif, who chaired a five-man panel, said the court would deliver its judgment on a later date.

The Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) contended that only Muslims could practise Syariah law as Syariah courts had no jurisdiction over non-Muslims should they display any professional misconduct during proceedings. Read more

Transgenders’ bid to challenge cross-dressing law improper and premature, apex court told

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Supporters of a group of transgenders challenging the Shariah law that forbids cross-dressing among Muslims are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, August 13, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Supporters of a group of transgenders challenging the Shariah law that forbids cross-dressing among Muslims are pictured at the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya, August 13, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 13 — The Negri Sembilan government told the Federal Court today that the group of transgenders challenging the Shariah law that forbids cross-dressing among Muslims had used improper channels to file their bid.

In its bid to overturn an appellate court’s landmark ruling on the matter, the state government, represented by prominent lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah, also said the challenge had been premature as the group had only been charged with the offence in the Shariah Court and no decision had been delivered yet.

The lawyer argued that the Court of Appeal, and the Seremban High Court before it, had erred when it entertained the transgenders’ application for judicial review as the Federal Constitution does not state they have the jurisdiction to do so.

The Court of Appeal had in November 7 last year ruled that Section 66 of the Negri Sembilan Shariah Criminal Enactment 1992 prohibiting cross-dressing by Muslims was unconstitutional and void. Read more

Shariah courts can’t hold non-Muslims in contempt, MAIWP lawyer reminds Federal Court

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Sulaiman, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, is pictured outside the Federal Court, August 13, 2015. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

Sulaiman, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, is pictured outside the Federal Court, August 13, 2015. — Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 13 — A Shariah court cannot fully function with non-Muslim Shariah lawyers as it cannot cite them for contempt, a lawyer representing the Federal Territories Islamic Council (MAIWP) told the Federal Court today.

Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, who is acting for the council in seeking to bar non-Muslim lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin from practising Shariah law in the federal territories, reminded the five-man bench that the Constitution does not give the Shariah court any jurisdiction over non-Muslims.

“In a faith-based court regulating Islamic affairs and for the benefit of Muslims, only people of that faith can argue in that court,” said Sulaiman.

“If they want to practise, they must subject themselves to the court’s jurisdiction,” he added later.”

MAIWP and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) are appealing a decision by the Court of Appeal which decided that the part in Rule 10 of the Shariah Lawyers Rules 1993, which said that only Muslims can be admitted as Shariah lawyers, exceeds the boundaries of Section 59 of the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993. Read more

Two lawsuits today spotlight supremacy of constitutional guarantees vs Islamic law [UPDATED]

Source: The Malay Mail Online

State Islamic authorities have argued that fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed to all Malaysians cannot be applied to determine the validity of Islamic laws. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The country’s highest court sits today to hear two separate cases that essentially deal with one fundamental question: will future Malaysians have the right to challenge Shariah enactments that encroach on their constitutional rights regardless of their religious background?

In their appeals to outlaw cross-dressing among Muslim men and to bar non-Muslims from practising as Shariah lawyers, state Islamic authorities have argued that fundamental constitutional rights guaranteed to all Malaysians cannot be applied to determine the validity of Islamic laws.

But lawyers and observers have told Malay Mail Online that should Federal Court rule in favour of the Islamic religious bodies, all Malaysians — but especially Muslims — will effectively lose their only recourse for judicial challenge against discriminatory Shariah laws that they argue will see further curbs to their civil liberties. Read more