Mentega Terbang filmmakers get leave to refer constitutional questions to High Court


KUALA LUMPUR: A Magistrate's Court here has granted leave to the director and producer of the movie Mentega Terbang to refer constitutional questions on the charges of wounding religious feelings, under Section 298 of the Penal Code, to the High Court.

Magistrate Noorelynna Hanim Abd Halim granted the leave Friday (June 14) after determining that the application filed by Mohd Khairianwar Jailani and Tan Meng Kheng on March 11 has merit.

"After the court considered and reviewed the application filed by both applicants through a notice of motion on March 11 as well as written and oral arguments on May 10, the court found the application to be meritorious.

"The court adjourns the case faced by both applicants until the legal questions are decided by the High Court," said Noorelynna, who then set Sept 20 for case mention for the parties to provide updates on the proceedings in the High Court.

The two questions are to determine: whether or not Section 298 of the Penal Code violates Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution, which protects freedom of speech; and whether or not the phrase "wounding the religious feelings of any person", an element in the offence, violates the rights to a fair trial as the phrase is ambiguous and thus contravenes Articles 5 and 8 of the Constitution.

In Friday's proceeding, Khairianwar and Tan were present with their lawyer Zaid Malek, while DPPs Abdul Malik Ayob and Nadia Mohd Izhar appeared for the prosecution.

On Jan 17, Khairianwar, 32, who is also a scriptwriter, along with Tan, 36, were charged with offending religious sentiments through the film by allegedly uttering audible words and displaying objects at a location on Jalan Semarak Api at 12.34pm on Feb 26 last year.

The charges were brought under Section 298 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

Previously, the Home Ministry banned the screening and publicising of the film through an order signed by its minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The film, streamed on a video platform, sparked public condemnation and concern for allegedly depicting scenes conflicting with religious beliefs and sentiments. – Bernama

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