KOTA BARU, Aug 7 — The Kelantan government takes seriously the constitutional challenge filed by a lawyer and her daughter over the state Shariah law and has instructed the Kelantan Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAHEIK) to act as an intervener in the proceedings of the case in the Federal Court.

Caretaker Kelantan menteri besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob said the case involved questioning the power of the state legislative assembly to formulate the Shariah criminal law under the State List, Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“The state government on Thursday (August 3) has acted and instructed the Kelantan Islamic Religious Affairs Department, as an interested party in safeguarding the implementation of Islamic law in Kelantan, particularly in relation to the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019, to act as an intervener in the case.

“This is because the case will have a very big impact on the interests of Islam, the Shariah Law and the Kelantan government as a whole,” he said in a statement here today.

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Ahmad also called on Muslims and Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the state to play their respective roles in protecting the state’s Shariah law.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Mohd Na’im Mokhtar, in a statement, called on state religious authorities, statutory bodies relating to Islam and religion-related NGOs to involve themselves in the proceedings of the court case filed by lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid against the Kelantan government either as an intervener, watching brief or amicus curiae (friend of the court).

Nik Elin Zurina and her daughter, Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman filed a constitutional challenge regarding the 20 provisions contained in the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 which they claimed are invalid as there are federal laws covering the same offences.

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The duo contends that 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 went directly to the Federal Court as it has exclusive jurisdiction to decide such questions, based on Article 128(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

For such constitutional challenges under the Article 4(4) route, it can only start if a Federal Court judge grants leave or permission.

On September 30 last year, Federal Court judge Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat heard arguments by lawyers for the two women and the Kelantan government, before deciding on the same day to allow the two women to commence their court challenge. — Bernama