Court dismisses publisher’s challenge against Jais

(From left) Publisher Ezra Zaid and his father Zaid Ibrahim speaking to lawyer K Shanmuga after the court’s decision.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed a bid by publisher Ezra Zaid and his company to challenge the religious authorities action against him for publishing the Bahasa Melayu version of Canadian author Irshad Manji’s book.

High Court judge Justice Kamaludin Md Said ruled that the religious authorities’ investigation and enforcement powers were not open for review.

“The warrant issued and the raid were done under Section 46 and there is nothing wrong with that,” he said, referring to the provision in the Selangor Shariah Criminal Enactment.

The court also said the state’s shariah law was enacted within the framework of the Federal Constitution.

The court awarded a cost of RM10,000 to the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), its director-general, enforcement chief, Selangor Syarie prosecution chief, the Selangor government and the Malaysian government, who were named by Ezra in his judicial review.

Ezra’s lawyer K Shanmuga said he would seek further instructions from Ezra on whether he would be appealing today’s decision.

(From left) Publisher Ezra Zaid and lawyer K Shanmuga outside the court.

Ezra’s case was reheard in the High Court after the Court of Appeal ordered his judicial review to be tried before a new judge.

Ezra’s judicial review was previously dismissed after a preliminary objection by Jais.

Ezra, who is also the son of DAP member Zaid Ibrahim, claimed trial at the Shariah Court on March 7, 2013, under Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Enactment for publishing 180 translated copies of Irshad‘s book entitled, “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta” (Allah, Liberty and Love).

He faced a fine of up to RM3,000, a two-year jail term or both if convicted.

Ezra’s Shariah Court trial is scheduled to continue on April 19.

The books were seized during a raid by Jais on ZI Publications’ office on May 29, 2012.

Ezra filed a judicial review in 2012 to determine whether the Selangor Shariah enforcement and prosecution authorities could charge him for the offence in his capacity as proprietor and director of a company.

He sought an order to nullify the action by the department’s officers who conducted the raid and confiscated the books.

Besides that, Ezra also applied for an order to nullify the arrest, on May 29, and Jais’ prosecution against him.

He failed to challenge the Selangor Shariah enactment in 2015, with the court ruling that the state legislature was competent to legislate Section 16 of the Shariah Criminal Enactment 1995.