Composition of special Syariah law special committee finalised, says minister

KUALA LUMPUR: The composition of the special committee tasked to propose solutions for the issues faced by Syariah-related laws has been finalised, says Datuk Dr Mohd Na'im Mokhtar.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) told the Dewan Rakyat that the committee will be chaired by a former Chief Justice, but did not reveal who it is.

“All the names selected for the special committee have been finalised and appointed. Apart from the former Chief Justice as chairperson, it will include former judges, representatives from the Attorney-General Chambers, Syariah Courts as well as state religious councils,” he said.

Mohd Na'im added that academicians who are specialised in civil, syariah and Federal Constitution matters and lawyers will also be part of the committee.

He said this during the minister's question time in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Nov 21), adding that the special committee is expected to meet for the first time on Dec 4.

Mohd Na'im then said that the committee will discuss the direction of their study and research and offer recommendations based on their findings to the issues faced by Syariah-related laws in the country.

He added that the special committee is an effort by the government to solve the conflict of jurisdiction between the Federal Government, state government and civil courts to empower and strengthen the Syariah judicial system in the country.

Mohd Na’im was replying to a question by Datuk Ahmad bin Saad @ Yahaya (PN-Pokok Sena) who wanted to know the progress of the special committee.

In a supplementary question, Ahmad also asked if the government had set a timeline to implement the recommendations issued by the special committee.

Mohd Na’im said the special committee will be reviewing the judgement of the Federal Court for both cases involving Iki Putra Mubarak and Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter against the Selangor Syariah and Kelantan Syariah courts respectively.

“In terms of timeline, we are hoping that the special task force will review the judgement in the cases of Iki Putra, Nik Elin and will issue our recommendations including suggestions to amend any laws, if there are any,” said Mohd Na'im.

“Once the recommendations are finalised it will be brought to the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs (MKI) for approval before getting the consent from the Conference of Rulers,” he added.

In 2019, Iki Putra challenged the Selangor Syariah Criminal Enactment 1995 claiming that neither the state nor the sharia court had the jurisdiction to enact and try sodomy cases.

Last year, Nik Elin and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman filed a constitutional challenge against 18 provisions in Kelantan’s syariah criminal enactment.

In the petition, the mother-daughter duo argued that these provisions, which include punishments for incest, gambling, necrophilia, sodomy and sexual harassment, among others, were invalid as they were already covered by federal law.

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