Federal Court should have referred to Malaysia Agreement on apostasy case, say Sarawak churches

Source: The Malaysian Insight

THE Federal Court should have referred to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the constitution before pushing the conversion cases to the shariah court, the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) said.

ACS chairman Reverend Justin Wan said the Federal Court should not have interfered because the state is independent as far as MA63 is concern.

“Islam is the official religion of Malaysia but Sabah and Sarawak are free to exercise our religious beliefs. It is one of the points of the 18-point agreement.  

“So as far as Sarawak is concerned this issue should not be decided by the Federal Court.

“All this while the civil court had said they (shariah court) have no jurisdiction on apostasy cases, and now the Federal Court says they have.

“We leave today’s decision to the court, but we still feel that it is not a wise decision. It’s not right in the context of Sarawak,” he told The Malaysian Insight. Read more

Federal Court defers to Shariah courts in Sarawak apostasy cases

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The Palace of Justice in Putrajaya – File pix

KUCHING, Feb 27 — The Federal Court ruled today that the Sarawak Shariah Court has jurisdiction over the bid by four Sarawakians — a Malay-Muslim and three Muslim converts — to embrace Christianity.

Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said the decision was unanimous.

“We have studied written submissions and arguments by from both parties and we found  that there is no merit in the appeals,” he said.

He added that while there is no specific provision in the Sarawak Shariah Court Ordinance 2001 concerning conversions into and out of Islam, there were provisions under the Sarawak Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) concerning such matters.

He said these existed under Sections 68, 69 and 70 of the MAIS Ordinance.

On the applicants’ legal question asking if the Shariah courts have jurisdiction over apostasy applications when there are no specific provisions in the Sarawak Shariah Court Ordnance 2001, Zulkefli said the answer was yes.

Today’s decision means the four applicants — Syarifah Nooraffyzza Wan Hosen and Muslim converts Jenny binti Peter alias Nur Muzdhalifah Abdullah, Mohd Syafiq Abdullah alias Tiong Choo Ting and Salina Jau binti Abdullah — must have their cases heard by the Shariah courts. Read more

Top court to hear who has power to decide four Sarawakians’ conversion out of Islam

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Four Sarawakians are seeking to have the civil courts declare that they are Christians and have the government’s recognition that they are no longer Muslims. — File picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — The Federal Court is scheduled to hear today the joint appeal of four Sarawakians who want to know if it is the civil or the state Shariah courts which can decide on their bid to convert out of Islam.

The hearing is part of the many years of waiting by the four who just want their identity card and official records to reflect the fact that they are now practising Christians. Read more

Ezra Zaid’s Shariah trial over Irshad Manji’s book begins

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — The Shariah court today decided that Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid’s trial over a book will proceed on February 22 despite a pending civil court case challenging his Shariah prosecution.

Zulkifli Che Yong, the lawyer for Ezra in the Shariah case, confirmed that there was a hearing today for his client’s application to stay the Shariah trial until the conclusion of a separate case at the civil courts.

“The court fixed for trial 22 February,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.

On March 7, 2013, Ezra was charged as ZI Publications’ director and majority shareholder under Section 16(1)(a) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 with two alternative counts of publishing and distributing the Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta book, as well as a third alternative count under Section 16(1)(b) for possession of 180 copies of the book.

Anyone convicted under Section 16(1) — which makes it an offence to print, publish, disseminate, or possessing for sale or for dissemination books “contrary to Islamic law” — is liable to a maximum RM3,000 fine or maximum two-year jail or both.

Pic from The Malay Mail Online

Farhan Haziq Mohamed, a lawyer representing Ezra in the civil courts, confirmed the decision by the Petaling Jaya Shariah Subordinate Court judge Syukran Yusoff on his client’s bid to defer the Shariah trial until the civil court case is resolved.

The case pending in the civil courts is a lawsuit filed by Ezra to challenge the Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) arrest and prosecution of him over the Bahasa Malaysia version of Canadian writer Irshad Manji’s Allah, Liberty and Love book.

The judicial review filed by ZI Publications and Ezra in July 2012 is against six parties ― Jais, Jais’ director-general, Jais chief enforcement officer, Selangor’s chief Syarie prosecutor, the Selangor government and the Malaysian government.

In the civil suit, ZI Publications and Ezra are seeking for a number of court orders, including the quashing of Jais’ raid and seizure on May 29, 2012 of 180 copies of the BM book, and an order for the return of the books seized.

The High Court initially granted leave to hear the lawsuit, but last September 6 dismissed it without hearing the case following a preliminary objection by Jais.

The Court of Appeal had in April unanimously decided, however, that Ezra’s case should be sent back to the High Court to be heard on its merits before a new judge, with Jais informing the courts in May that it would not appeal this decision.

But the Selangor religious authorities have now said they will file a preliminary objection against the case.

“The respondents wanted to file preliminary objection by November 30. On December 5, the court will decide whether to listen to the preliminary objection or proceed with hearing,” Farhan Haziq told Malay Mail Online.

The hearing of the case was initially fixed for August 28, but was subsequently deferred to November 9 before being rescheduled to December 5.

The December 5 hearing of the preliminary objection will be before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Kamaludin Said.

In a separate civil lawsuit, the High Court and Court of Appeal had both ruled in 2013 and 2015 in favor of ZI Publications, quashing the government’s ban of the Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta book.

The Federal Court had last February granted the government leave for an appeal against the reversal of the book ban, but Farhan Haziq confirmed today that no hearing date has been fixed for this appeal yet.

Pic from The Malay Mail Online

 

Federal Court: Islam requires convert to consult spouse before changing child’s faith

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Islamic principles oblige Muslim converts to seek their non-Muslim spouses’ opinion before altering the religion of children born to a civil marriage, the Federal Court has indicated.

In the full judgement for its landmark ruling on Monday, the Federal Court highlighted two tenets in Islam — namely Al Syura, or consultation, and Al Adl, or justice — that are prescribed to Muslims.

“There was no consultation if the reverting parent has absolute right to change the original religion of the children without consulting the non-reverting parent,” Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zainun Ali said in a 100-page judgement sighted by Malay Mail.

Read more

PM: Putrajaya may ban unilateral child conversions

Source: Malay Mail Online

Najib Razak giving a press conference during UMNO Supreme Council meeting at UMNO Headquarters, Menara Dato’ Onn, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on January 30 2018. Via Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 — The government will consider re-introducing a legal amendment to ban unilateral child conversion to Islam, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today after a landmark court ruling in M. Indira Gandhi’s case.

The prime minister was referring to Section 88A of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act that the government had withdrawn before passing amendments to the law last August.

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Kes Indira: Mahkamah sivil boleh tafsir isu perundangan Islam

Sumber: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, 30 Jan — Perlembagaan Persekutuan tidak menghalang mahkamah sivil daripada mentafsir atau menilai isu berkaitan undang-undang Islam.

Dalam penghakiman bertulis kes M Indira Gandhi, lima ahli panel mahkamah persekutuan berkata klausa 1A bawah Seksyen 121 Perlembagaan tidak mengurangkan kuasa mahkamah sivil berkaitan perkara dalam bidang kuasa mahkamah syariah.

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Answered: Who has the power in conversion cases — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Online

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

ONCE ever so rarely emerges a court decision that will have a reverberating effect far beyond its own facts and parties to the case.

I speak of yesterday’s decision of the Federal Court in the Indira Gandhi case.

Before the Federal Court were two important questions: (1) who has authority to decide on matters of conversion of religion – the syariah courts or the civil courts where an issue arises involving its constitutional or statutory interpretation?

(2) In such conversion cases can one parent (without the consent of the other) have the final say? Read more

Indira Gandhi’s case shows civil law trumps shariah law

Source: The Malaysian Insight

THE landmark decision in the M. Indira Gandhi case sets a precedent that civil law prevails over shariah law, lawyers and civil groups said today.

The Federal Court yesterday ruled that the unilateral conversion of Indira’s three children to Islam was null and void, requiring the consent of both parents and the constitutional word “parent” was a case of being lost in translation.

Lawyers for Liberty’s Eric Paulsen said the ruling prevents cases which takes into consideration both civil and shariah law to bypass the common law.

“The judgment is extremely significant, as it conclusively stated that unilateral conversion is no longer valid.

“Therefore, a newly converted spouse can no longer circumvent civil law and go through the shariah system in order to unfairly gain custody of the children,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

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‘Indira judgment welcomed, but authorities must follow through’

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A human rights NGO today hailed a landmark ruling which set aside the unilateral conversion of three children to Islam, expressing hope however that the authorities would follow through.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said the Federal Court’s ruling in M Indira Gandhi’s case was long overdue.

He said he was happy that the matter had been resolved “in the favour of justice”, adding that the ruling shows that Muslims and non-Muslims are equal under the law.

“But failure of authorities to follow through on the decision will impact the confidence in court judgments.

“It could lead to a collapse of the system which could see people taking matters into their own hands,” he told FMT.

Read more