KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has dismissed Sisters in Islam’s (SIS) application for a judicial review of a gazetted fatwa (edict) in Selangor that declared the women’s rights group as deviating from Islam.
It ruled that the civil court had no jurisdiction to grant the declaration sought by SIS.
High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Hanipah Farikullah ruled yesterday that this was a matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.
“The fatwa is a matter of determination of Islamic law,” she said.
She cited Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution which stated that the civil court had no jurisdiction on matters that were within the Syariah courts.
SIS lead counsel Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said they would appeal as the issue of fatwa was being tested for the first time by way of judicial review.
“The question is what is the permissible scope of fatwa. SIS, being a company, is not (within) the purview of the Syariah court. We feel the Court of Appeal should look into it,” Malik said.
Former law minister Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim, who is one of the applicants, said: “It is a sad day. We should not give power of judicial review to the Syariah Court.”
SIS had on Dec 10, 2014 obtained leave from the High Court to initiate the judicial review.
In granting leave, High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Asmabi Mohamad held that SIS had proven that its application was not frivolous.
SIS, through its company SIS Forum (Malaysia), had filed for a judicial review against the Selangor Fatwa Committee's edict titled Pemikiran Liberalisme dan Pluralisme Agama.
The fatwa, gazetted in July 2014, declared SIS Forum (Malaysia) as subscribing to liberalism and religious pluralism, and thus deviating from the teachings of Islam.
Zaid and SIS co-founder Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar were co-applicants.
In the judicial review application filed on Oct 31, 2014, SIS Forum named the Selangor Fatwa Committee, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) and the Selangor government as respondents.
The contested fatwa allows for any publications deemed liberal and plural to be banned and seized.
In addition, it calls for any form of social media that promotes such content to be monitored and restricted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
SIS sought for a declaration that banning publications and directing the MCMC to block websites were beyond the powers of the fatwa.
Assistant legal advisers Naziah Mokhtar and Haizam Irwan Toha appeared for the Selangor government and Selangor Fatwa Committee.
Lawyers Yusfarizal Yussoff and Majdah Muda acted for MAIS.