Islamic laws strengthened

Supporting their cause: More than 500 PAS members and members of the public flooded the grounds of the Putrajaya Corporation Complex to participate in the ‘Save Syariah Gathering’.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s Islamic laws will be further strengthened with the recent landmark judgment by the Federal Court nullifying 16 provisions in the Kelantan Syariah Criminal code, says the Syariah Judiciary Department.

The Feb 9 ruling will also harmonise offences that exist under both syariah and civil laws, the department said.

The apex court’s ruling on the 16 provisions came only because the Kelantan state legislature had gone beyond its powers to pass such laws, said the department, which is under the Prime Minister’s Office.

“This decision can be described as strengthening Islamic law in Malaysia. 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 department said.

“The indication is that there has been a harmonisation between civil and syariah jurisdictions,” the department said in a statement yesterday.

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In an 8-1 majority decision, the apex court struck down the 16 provisions after allowing an application by two lawyers – a mother and daughter – to challenge the provisions under the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code Enactment 2019.

Kelantan-born lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Nastasha Tengku Abdul Rahman had filed their challenge against 18 provisions on May 25 last year under Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution, naming the Kelantan state government as the respondent.

They argued that the 18 provisions, which included offences and punishments for incest, gambling, sodomy, sexual harassment and giving false evidence, were invalid as they are already covered by federal law.

They also argued that the power to legislate criminal matters belonged to Parliament.

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Explaining the impact of the verdict, the syariah department said it does not mean that Muslims in Kelantan cannot be punished for committing those 16 offences.

“It is just (that these offences) cannot be tried in syariah court, but can be tried in civil court. If a Muslim in Kelantan commits sumbang mahram (incest), the offence can be tried in civil court,” the department said.

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

The apex court’s decision to nullify the state’s law on incest is because there is already a law for it in the Penal Code, the department said.

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