PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya is currently drafting amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355) to increase the power of the Syariah Court, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
"Throughout 2020 and 2021, the government, through the Islamic and Civil Law technical committee form by the Rulers Conference at a National Ceremony for Islamic Affairs (MKI), had a series of meeting to discuss RU355 in various aspects, particularly the legislation and constitutional aspect, bills and hukum syarak (Islamic laws) so that RU355 is more comprehensive and is able to empower the Syariah Court.
"Once RU355 is finalised, it will be tabled to states in the Conference on the Coordination of Islamic and Civil Law."
Ismail Sabri was responding to Khalid Abdul Samad (PH-Shah Alam) in a Parliamentary written reply dated Sept 14, who asked for the Prime Minister to state the government's plans in empowering the Syariah Court.
Ismail Sabri said the government was always taking steps to enhance the position of the Syariah Court so it has the same powers as civil courts.
Ismail Sabri also said among steps taken to upgrade the Syariah Court include forming a committee to study and enact the Syariah Courts (Federal Territories) Act 2022 (Courts Bill).
"Empowering the Syariah Court covers several important aspects such as increasing the competence of the syarie judge, syarie prosecutor and religious enforcement officers, upgrading administration aspects and infrastructure the Syariah Court, amendments on present syariah laws and streamlining syariah laws."
RU355 was previously tabled by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as a private members bill for first reading on May 26, 2016.
The bill sought to increase maximum punishment in the Syariah Court to 30 years jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane.
Present punishment for syariah offenders are capped at three years jail, RM5,000 fine and six strokes of the cane.