Apex court to hear Sisters in Islam's bid for leave to challenge Selangor’s provision on June 22

Lawyer Surendra Ananth speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex August 27, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Lawyer Surendra Ananth speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex August 27, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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PUTRAJAYA, April 15 — The Federal Court has set June 22 to hear an application by Sisters In Islam (SIS) Forum (Malaysia) for leave to commence a legal action to challenge a provision in the Selangor Islamic Enactment which empowers state Syariah High Courts to review fatwa issued by the state religious authorities.

The matter was set for case management today before deputy registrar Azniza Mohd Ali.

Lawyer A. Surendra Ananth, who appeared for SIS, said in a text message that the hearing date was fixed for June 22.

Meanwhile, Surendra said the Court of Appeal has yet to fix the hearing date on SIS’s appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of its judicial review to challenge the Selangor religious authority’s fatwa that the group is deviant.

SIS had filed the application in January this year seeking leave from a single Federal Court judge to commence the legal action, among others, seeking a declaration that section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 is invalid.

Section 66A states that Syariah High Courts in Selangor have the jurisdiction to hear judicial review against the decisions of state religious councils or committees.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 27 last year dismissed SIS’s judicial review application to challenge the decision of the Selangor Fatwa Committee declaring it a deviant organisation which had deviated from the true teachings of Islam.

High Court judge Datuk Nordin Hassan held that the civil court has no jurisdiction pertaining to hukum syarak of Syariah Law, adding that fatwa issue was related to Syariah Law and it was under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

The judge said Section 66A was an avenue to seek a judicial review against the fatwa committee in the Syariah High Court.

On October 31, 2014, SIS Forum (Malaysia), SIS founder Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar and Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim filed an application to challenge the Selangor Fatwa Committee decision declaring the organisation as deviating from Islamic teachings, naming the Selangor Fatwa Committee, Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) and the Selangor government as respondents.

They sought a certiorari order to quash the decision of the Selangor Fatwa Committee and MAIS which stated that the organisation and any individual, as well as groups which adopted the deviant ideologies of liberalism and pluralism, were deviating from the teachings of Islam. — Bernama

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