Govt seeks to stop suit by ex-MP over Hadi’s bill

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang tabling his private member’s bill proposing stiffer shariah sentences in Dewan Rakyat last year. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The government will raise a preliminary objection on a suit by former MP Tawfik Ismail against ex-Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia seeking to stop the tabling of a bill by PAS to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.

This is because Tawfik’s suit is now academic as all matters related to the 13th session of the Dewan Rakyat had come to an end following Parliament’s dissolution in April for the 14th general election.

Tawfik Ismail.

Federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan sent a letter dated Sept 19 to the High Court to notify the government’s stand on the matter.

Hearing has been scheduled tomorrow before judge Nordin Hassan.

A letter by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to Tawfik’s lawyers said that unfinished business of a Parliament that had been dissolved would automatically lapse pursuant to the dissolution.

“Such unfinished business cannot and does not ‘carry on life’ when the new Parliament convened.

“It would certainly extend to the RUU355 motion,” Thomas said in the letter sighted by FMT, referring to PAS’s efforts to introduce heavier punishments under shariah laws.

He said since the motion “died” on April 7, the dispute had become academic, and it was not practical to proceed with the case.

But Tawfik’s lawyer Rosli Dahlan disagreed, saying the government’s objection was misconceived.

“The preliminary objection is misconceived as it presupposes that the originating summons is solely on (Marang MP) Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion. The reliefs sought are beyond just Hadi’s motion,” he said.

Rosli said there were issues which were incumbent upon the court to deliver a judgment and not shirk from its judicial duty as mandated by the Federal Constitution.

He said the reliefs sought were not just against the tabling of Hadi’s motion but also against other breaches of the constitution.

Rosli said if the preliminary objection was allowed, it would set an adverse precedent for future motions without adhering to the spirit and provisions of the constitution.

He said Tawfik’s originating summons should be heard to pronounce the legal position of the tabling of laws with regards to Article 38 of the constitution.

On Feb 22, judge Kamaludin Md Said, who heard the government’s application to strike out Tawfik’s suit, declined on grounds the court has jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Rosli said the court had made the right decision as shariah laws come under the jurisdiction of the Malay rulers.

“We say that there are constitutional issues on the tabling of the Bill as the Conference of Rulers needs to give its consent under Article 38 of the constitution,” he said.

Tawfik is the former Barisan Nasional MP for Sungai Benut in Johor, and son of the late Ismail Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister from 1970 to 1973.

He is seeking a court order to stop the tabling of the bill which seeks to give wider powers to shariah courts, including stiffer sentences on Muslim offenders.

He filed his application in court in March last year, naming Pandikar and Dewan Rakyat secretary Roosme Hamzah as defendants.

He claimed the private member’s bill proposed by Hadi did not conform with the requirements of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.

Hadi tabled a motion on April 6 last year to introduce his bill but it was not debated.

The bill aims to increase the penalties for shariah offences to 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 strokes of the cane.

Pandikar and Roosme asked the court to strike out the suit as it encroached on parliamentary privileges under the constitution.