It’s subjudice to debate Hadi’s bill, AG told to advise Pandikar

taufiq-pandikarKUALA LUMPUR: Former MP Tawfik Ismail has urged the attorney-general (AG) to advise Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia against listing a bill giving wider powers to shariah courts at the next session of Parliament on Monday.

In a letter to the Attorney-General’s Chambers, his lawyers reminded of the recent High Court judgment rejecting Pandikar’s application to strike out Tawfik’s suit.

Tawfik had filed a suit against Pandikar and Parliament secretary Roosme Hamzah, seeking a declaration from the court that the bill proposed by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is unconstitutional and against parliamentary procedures.

The bill seeks to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, known by its Malay acronym RUU355, allowing heavier punishments on Muslims convicted of various shariah offences.

The letter to Pandikar said it would be “subjudice and a contempt of court for the RUU355 bill to be listed in the Order Paper for the next Parliament session”.

“As such, it is imperative for the defendants to respect the court’s decision and the on-going court proceedings of the case. And similarly, the members of Parliament should be refrained from debating or discussing the case during the session.”

Tawfik had recently warned all quarters against making RUU355 part of the general election campaign this year.

“It would also be subjudice and a contempt of court for RUU355 to be discussed and/or deliberated in public as a campaign issue in the 14th general election, while the court deliberates the issues raised in the originating summons,” said the son of the late illustrious Umno leader, Ismail Abdul Rahman, who served as deputy prime minister from 1970 to 1973.

In his originating summons filed in March last year, Tawfik said Hadi’s motion did not conform with the requirements of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat and that it violated Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees equality for all Malaysians.

Pandikar and Roosme contended the suit must be annulled as it encroached into parliamentary privileges under Articles 62 and 63 of the Federal Constitution.

Article 62 (1) states that subject to the provisions of the constitution and of federal law, each House of Parliament (Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara) shall regulate its own procedure. Article 63 states that the validity of any proceedings in either House of Parliament, or any committee, shall not be questioned in any court.

The High Court ruled that it had the jurisdiction to enquire into the matter complained of by Tawfik in his originating summons.