Govt will only table draft amendments to Syariah courts Act after discussions at state-level next year

KUALA LUMPUR: Amendments to the Syariah Courts Act (Criminal Jurisdiction) 1965 will only be tabled in Parliament after discussions are held with all states, says Ahmad Marzuk Shaary.

"Although the Act is Federal law and falls under the syariah criminal courts, syariah criminal law comes under the jurisdiction of the respective states.

"As such, the government is of the view that it is very appropriate and proper that the matter be discussed with the states to get their views before it can be tabled in Parliament," the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Religious Affairs said in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (Nov 26).

He said this in response to a question by Ahmad Fadhil Sha'ari (PAS-Pasir Mas) on the timeframe when amendments to the law would be brought to Parliament.

He said two separate technical committees had meet in September and October this year to study the amendments before coming out with a proposed draft.

He said the draft on the proposed amendments will be presented to the states early next year for further discussions including its constitutional implications.

Ahmad noted that the proposed amendments was among proposed 11 amendments to uplift the institution of the syariah courts under a five-year plan between 2020 to 2025.

Among the other proposed amendments, he added, included matters on wakaf, proselytising and the posts of mufti.

A Private Member's Bill to amend the syariah law was proposed by Marang MP Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in November 2016 to increase syariah courts powers to impose jail sentences to not more than 30 years, 100 lashes or RM100,000 fine.

The current limits are three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes.

The Bill was allowed by the then Barisan Nasional government to be tabled and read out by the PAS president in Parliament in April 2017 although it was never passed.

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