PUTRAJAYA: Social activist Dr Kassim Ahmad has been acquitted and discharged by the Syariah Court over charges of insulting Islam and defying Muslim authorities.
Judge Azzeman Omar made the order following the withdrawal of the charges made against the 82-year-old Kassim after the Syarie prosecuting officer agreed with the decisions of the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.
Both the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court have ruled that Kassim's arrest and prosecution were invalid.
He freed Kassim on the grounds that any Syarie prosecution chief has the power to appoint any of the prosecuting officer to withdraw the charges against the accused.
Judge Azzeman added that the court disagreed with submissions by prosecuting officer Mohd Hafiz Abd Hamid that a written approval from the prosecution chief was needed to enable them to withdraw the charges.
The wheelchair-bound Kassim was present in court, and he was represented by counsel Rosli Dahlan.
On March 7, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum chaired a three-man Federal Court panel which unanimously dismissed an application for leave to appeal filed by the Government and the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi).
The panel upheld the decision made by the Court of Appeal on Dec 21, 2015.
The other applicants in the case were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, and the then Federal Territory Syariah chief prosecutor.
The court further ordered the applicants to pay costs of RM20,000 to Kassim.
On March 27, 2014, Kassim claimed trial at the Syariah High Court here to three charges of insulting Islam and defying Islamic authorities.
He then filed a judicial review application at the Civil High Court seeking a declaration, among others that Jawi had acted beyond the powers provided under state Islamic laws and the Federal Constitution when it prosecuted him.
The High Court dismissed the judicial review but the appellate court overturned the decision.
The appellate court ruled that Kassim’s arrest on March 26, 2014 at his house in Taman Kulim Perdana, Kulim, Kedah was illegal as it was not in accordance with the Kedah Syariah Enactment.
It also ruled that Kassim, being a resident of Kedah, was not obligated to a Federal Territory 'fatwa' as he was not arrested in a Federal Territory.