I did it for everyone, says lawyer

PETALING JAYA: The lawyer at the centre of the Federal Court challenge that nullified 16 Kelantan Syariah criminal laws is prepared to face the consequences of her actions.

“I did this not for myself, I did it for everyone despite being vilified, condemned and being cursed at,” Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid told reporters at lobby of the Palace of Justice.

When asked whether she was prepared to face brickbats in Kelantan, the Kelantan-born lawyer said:

“When I am in Kelantan, I do not get people criticising me. In fact, they support me.

“If there are allegations that I am being condemned (in Kelantan), they are not true, it is just manipulation of facts. There is no problem and I will be back in Kelantan next week,” she said yesterday after the apex court delivered its verdict.

Nik Elin Zurina and her daughter, Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman, had filed a constitutional challenge on May 25 against 18 provisions under Kelantan’s syariah criminal code.

The challenge, under Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution, named the Kelantan state government as the sole respondent.

They argued that these provisions, which included punishments for incest, gambling, giving false evidence, sodomy and sexual harassment, were null and void as they were already covered by federal law.

They also argued that the power to legislate criminal matters belongs to Parliament, as state assemblies only have the right to enact laws related to Islam.

The Federal Court allowed their challenge and declared 16 of the 18 provisions as unconstitutional.

Stressing that the issue was not about Islam or the position of the Syariah Courts, Nik Elin Zurina said that it was actually about harmonising the jurisdictions between syariah and civil courts.

She added that she was hopeful that state assemblies will now be more careful when drafting state laws.

“(The verdict has) nothing to do with Islamic doctrine, and the court has decided that it was only about the competency of the state legislature (in drafting certain laws). I hope that this case would harmonise syariah and civil courts,” she said at the Palace of Justice here.

“As officers of the court, it is our responsibility to protect and defend the supremacy of the law.”

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