KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) has accepted that a couple it arrested for khalwat (close proximity) were married, but insisted the raid and subsequent enforcement action were lawful.
Jawi reportedly said a check of its records on January 9 found the couple’s marriage to be valid and solemnised in Kuala Lumpur on October 7, 2014.
But the department denied wrongdoing and noted that the January 8 raid by its enforcement officers was based on a public tip-off at 10.55pm of January 7, local paper The Star reported.
Jawi, in its statement of defence, argued that the arrest and detention were lawful as the couple had allegedly failed to produce evidence to show that they were married.
On February 17, Mohd Ridhuan Giman and Siti Sarah Maulad Abdullah filed a lawsuit against Jawi and six others over the raid of their budget hotel room at 1.30am on January 8.
According to the couple’s court filing, the Jawi raid team comprised eight officers, seven who were male and had forcefully entered their room despite Mohd Ridhuan telling them his wife — in a singlet and shorts — was underdressed.
The male enforcers allegedly refused to leave the room even after the husband presented photos of their wedding and their Jawi-issued marriage certificate, and instead ordered Siti Sarah to dress in front of them.
Scuffles broke out twice during the raid during which Mohd Ridhuan said he was strangled and suffered injuries to his neck while his wife’s left arm was bruised. Both said their injuries required medical attention.
The duo said they were held separately at Jawi’s office for an hour, and the officers refused to recognise they were a married couple despite being presented with the original marriage certificate by the husband’s mother later.
Mohd Ridhuan and Siti Sarah were only released after his mother was forced to sign a personal bond stating that the couple would return for investigation and that she would pay RM3,000 if they failed to turn up, while the couple themselves said they were forced to sign a personal bond acknowledging their arrest for khalwat.
The couple and the mother are suing for wrongful arrest, wrongful confinement, trespass to person, violation of privacy, tort of abuse of office and violation of the duo’s rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement under the Federal Constitution’s Articles 5 and 9.
They are seeking compensation in the form of general damages, aggravated damages, exemplary damages; a court order instructing Jawi to drop the investigation, as well as an unconditional apology in the form of a letter to them and in at least two Malay-language newspapers.
They sued two of the Jawi enforcement officers who have been identified as Mohd Shiham Ramli, Mohammad Izehar Md Amin; Jawi enforcement division’s senior chief assistant director, Jawi director-general, Jawi, the Prime Minister’s Department and the government of Malaysia.
According to The Star, the couple yesterday succeeded in getting the close-circuit television (CCTV) recordings and documents related to the January raid from the hotel’s management, while the case will come up for case management on May 31.