KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — Any demonstrations held over the ongoing constitutional challenge against certain provisions within the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code currently before the Federal Court are tantamount to contempt of court, an umbrella body representing major non-Muslim religions said today.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) said the case was still ongoing and any form of public demonstration could be construed as putting pressure on the court.
“The MCCBCHST notes that the judicial challenge to decide on the state validity of the 20 provisions in the Kelantan State enactment passed by the Kelantan state assembly is the proper and lawful way of seeking Federal Court’s decision on the matter.
“Thus, the proper recourse for the defendants is to argue the case in the Federal Court through their lawyers which they are now doing.
“Being parties to the legal challenge before the Federal Court it may be contemptuous to hold public demonstrations against the Plaintiffs who are exercising their constitutional right,” it said in a statement here.
This follows reports that Perikatan Nasional is seeking to drum up Muslim support in defence of controversial Shariah criminal laws in PAS-led Kelantan by organising a series of demonstrations, with the first demonstration to be held in Terengganu on November 16, followed by one in Kelantan on November 18 and a prayer gathering at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya on November 20.
MCCBCHST noted that the plaintiffs in the ongoing case were neither challenging the status of Islam nor the position of the Rulers but challenging the competency of the Kelantan State legislature to pass the said 20 provisions in their state enactment which were originally passed in November 1993.
The constitutional challenge was filed by lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Natasha Tengku Abdul Rahman in May 2022 to nullify and void 20 provisions in the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019.
The mother-daughter pair claimed the Kelantan legislative assembly has no powers to make criminal laws, and cited Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution.
Under Article 4(4), the validity of any laws made by the Parliament or state legislature can be questioned in court.
In August, a panel of nine Federal Court judges heard a constitutional review of 20 provisions in the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 as part of the proceedings for Nik Elin’s case and the panel’s chair was reported saying during the hearing that there was no dispute arising over Islam as the official religion of the federation.
PAS leaders, including its president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang who is Marang MP, and secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan who is also Kota Baru MP, have repeatedly accused the federal government of not standing up for Islam even after the federal Islamic affairs minister said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s administration’s stand is not to intervene in court cases.