PUTRAJAYA: The publisher of a controversial book and its director today won their appeal for the High Court to hear the merit of their judicial review on enforcement and investigation by the Selangor Islamic religious authorities.
A three-man Court of Appeal bench led by Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said a preliminary objection raised by the religious authorities was related to the constitutionality issue and not other related matters.
“The High Court judge erred in allowing the preliminary objection,” said Tengku Maimun, who ordered the case to be heard before a new judge.
Case management has been fixed for May 11.
Last September, justice Hanipah Farikullah turned down the judicial review by ZI Publications Sdn Bhd and its director Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid, to challenge a raid carried out by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department in 2012 to seize translated copies of the book “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta”, authored by Irshad Manji.
Hanipah made the decision after allowing a preliminary objection.
ZI Publications and Mohd Ezra had named the department, its director-general, enforcement chief, Selangor Syarie prosecution chief, the Selangor government and the Malaysian government as respondents.
The judge agreed to the objection raised as the case had been decided on a question of law at the Federal Court.
On Sept 28, 2015, the apex court ruled as valid a provision in the Selangor state shariah enactment which punishes Muslims for publishing and disseminating religious books that are against Islamic law.
The apex court also ruled that the Selangor state legislature was competent to legislate Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Enactment 1995.
A five-man panel led by the current Chief Justice Raus Sharif dismissed the petition brought by the company and Mohd Ezra to challenge the validity of the provision.
Mohd Ezra, the son of former Cabinet minister Zaid Ibrahim, was charged with the offence in the lower shariah court.
ZI Publications and Mohd Ezra filed a judicial review application on July 9, 2012.
Among others, they applied for an order to nullify the action by the department’s officers who raided and seized 180 books on May 29, 2012, at ZI Publications in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
They also applied to nullify the arrest and prosecution of Mohd Ezra. Their application was also for the return of the seized 388-page books.
Besides that, they also applied for a certiorari order to nullify the arrest on May 29, and prosecution, of Mohd Ezra by the department.
In a separate legal challenge, they had gone straight to the Federal Court for a declaration that Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Enactment regarding investigations on Mohd Ezra, should be voided, claiming it was inconsistent with Article 10(1)(a) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.