Federal Court's ruling will strengthen Islamic law in Malaysia, says Syariah Judiciary Department

PETALING JAYA: The recent landmark judgment on Kelantan syariah criminal law will strengthen Islamic law in Malaysia, says the Syariah Judiciary Department.

At the same time, the department said the verdict in the Nik Elin Zurina case against the Kelantan state government would also harmonise offences that exist under both the syariah and civil laws.

"The cancellation of the 16 provisions is only because it goes beyond the jurisdiction given to the state assembly.

"However, an act that is contrary to Islamic law is an offence under Islamic law.

"This decision can also be described as a strengthening of the Islamic law in Malaysia when the Federal Court in its judgment states that the takzir punishment found in the Syariah Court is parallel to the Penal Code in the Civil Court.

"The indication is that there has been a harmonisation between Civil and Syariah jurisdiction," it said in a statement on Sunday (Feb 11).

On Friday (Feb 9), the Federal Court ruled that 16 provisions of the Kelantan syariah criminal law were unconstitutional.

In an 8-1 majority decision, the apex court allowed the application by a mother and daughter duo who challenged 18 provisions under the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment 2019.

The Syariah Judiciary Department explained that the court's decision in the case of Nik Elin only involved the jurisdiction of the federal and state governments to legislate for offences.

It did not, however, mean that Muslims in Kelantan could not be punished for committing those crimes, the department said.

"It just cannot be tried in the Syariah Court, but it can be tried in the civil court. If a Muslim in the state of Kelantan commits a mahram offence, the offence can be tried in a civil court.

"In fact, the punishment provided in the Penal Code is also higher, compared to the punishment provided in the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment.

"For the offence of adultery, when the court declares it invalid and void, it does not mean that adultery is no longer an offence for Muslims in Kelantan.

"It is invalid because the law has been provided for in the Penal Code, which is a federal law," the Syariah Judiciary Department added.

Kelantan-born lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman had filed their challenge on May 25 last year at the Federal Court via Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution, naming the Kelantan state government as the respondent.

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