PUTRAJAYA: Members of the Ahmadiah sect should still be subjected to Islamic laws if their MyKads identify them as Muslims, the Court of Appeal heard today as the Selangor authorities seek to quash a High Court ruling that they cannot be charged under the shariah for violating a fatwa declaring them as non-Muslims.
A group of Ahmadiah followers had challenged the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) which tried to charge them with shariah offences, saying authorities had never recognised them as Muslims.
But Selangor state legal adviser Masri Mohd Daud said their religious status as Muslim in their MyKads was grounds for arrest and investigation by the religious authorities.
“The High Court judge failed to consider this fact but went on to declare they were not Muslims,” he said in his submission before a three-member bench chaired by Badariah Sahamid.
Masri said the Ahmadiah followers must allow the state religious authorities to conduct investigations before they go to the civil court for remedy.
He said a state fatwa that they are no longer Muslims was insufficient.
“The group should have gone to the Shariah High Court in Selangor to get a declaration that they are no longer Muslims who follow the religious doctrine of the state,” he said.
Masri said the High Court has no power to declare them as non-Muslims, as that authority lies with the shariah court.
Masri appeared for Jais, the Selangor government and an investigating officer, who are appealing against a High Court ruling.
In July last year, the High Court ruled that state Islamic authorities have no right to stop the religious activities of the Ahmadiah community, which follows a sect generally regarded by Muslims as being outside the fold of Islam.
Judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera ruled that Jais had no right to bring charges against members of the sect for violating a state fatwa against Ahmadiah teachings.
He said they were considered apostates under a fatwa gazetted by the state in 2001, and ordered the religious authorities to stop their investigations.
Thirty-nine Ahmadiah followers had challenged Jais for trying to charge them with shariah offences, saying Islamic authorities do not recognise Ahmadiah Muslims as Muslims.
Meanwhile, lawyer Hasnan Hamzah, who represented the chief religious enforcement officer and the state chief shariah prosecutor, said the respondents should have gone to the shariah court to get a declaration that that they were not Muslims.
“The High Court judge was wrong as he did not follow precedents of three Federal Court rulings that one must go to the shariah,” he said.
But lawyer Aston Paiva, representing the 39 Ahmadiah followers, said the status on MyKads is irrelevant, and the fatwa should be taken into consideration.
“The fatwa states they are ‘murtad'(apostates) and accordingly are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts and the religious authorities in Selangor,” he said, adding that the religious department officers had information about the status of his clients when the raid was conducted.
He said MyKads are a federal law matter and should not be mixed up with the fatwa issued by the state religious authorities.
“The respondents’ stand is that they are still Muslims, only that they do not subscribe to the doctrine of the Selangor state,” he said.
The 39 include eight Pakistani asylum seekers, two Indian nationals, an Indonesian and three minors.
They were arrested for performing Friday prayers without permission on April 11, 2014 at the community’s centre in Batu Caves, Selangor, under Section 97 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.
Badariah, who sat with Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Nor Bee Ariffin will deliver the panel’s decision within a month.