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Monday, November 20, 2023

Don’t comment on Kelantan shariah enactment case, CJ warns lawyers


Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said the present case involves the competency of the Kelantan state assembly to enact certain offences but does not undermine Islam or the shariah courts.

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has warned lawyers involved in a constitutional challenge to a Kelantan shariah enactment which it is hearing not to comment on the case while it is ongoing.

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat reminded the lawyers appearing before her that as members of the Bar who are bound by existing practice and etiquette rules, it would be inappropriate for them to discuss ongoing cases.

“We remind everyone to uphold the rule of law and not to incite the public,” she said.

Earlier today, lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, appearing for Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter, Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman, told the court that one of the lawyers present, Yusfarizal Yussoff, allegedly made comments on Sept 16 regarding the case.

Tengku Maimun then asked Yusfarizal, who is acting for the Kelantan Islamic religious affairs department (JAHEIK) to confirm whether he had made the statement complained of by Nik Elin in her affidavit.

Nik Elin had alleged that Yusfarizal purportedly said her constitutional challenge would “bury” the powers of the shariah courts.

In response, Yusfarizal said he needed to check the recording and transcript of the event where he is alleged to have made the remark.

He told the court he would reply to Nik Elin’s affidavit after he has gone through the recording and transcript.

Tengku Maimun then repeated the court’s statement, previously made on Aug 17, that the case involved a challenge on the competency of the Kelantan state assembly to enact 18 offences.

She, however, insisted that the case brought does not undermine the Islamic faith or the shariah courts.

“Much of what has been said about this petition (outside the court) is a distorted version,” she said.

Nik Elin and Tengku Yasmin contend that the 18 provisions contained in the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 are invalid as there are federal laws covering the same offences.

The provisions in question touch on false claims, destroying and defiling places of worship, prostitution and various other sexual offences, including homosexuality, giving false evidence, and forgery of documents.

The duo say the power to legislate on criminal matters belongs exclusively to Parliament, with state assemblies only given the right to enact laws concerning the Islamic faith.

They want the court to declare these provisions null and void. - FMT

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