Penang family has no right to reclaim wakaf land, High Court told

Muhamad Amin Abdul Rahman (right) and a member of the Abdul Cauder family with lawyer Ku Abdul Rahman Ku Ismail (left) outside the High Court in George Town, Penang, today.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) today told the High Court here that land it took over from a family estate in Butterworth as Muslim endowment was done according to the law and wishes of the family who wanted to give it up for wakaf.

In a hearing of an originating summons by Muhamad Amin Abdul Rahman, the council said Amin has no right to reclaim the land since it had been acquired for wakaf and hence should remain in perpetuity in the hands of the council.

Amin is a descendant of the Abdul Cauder family, which owned the 1.09ha on Jalan Mengkuang, Butterworth, which is now known as Wakaf Abdul Cauder.

He initiated the summons against MAINPP, the Penang Mufti Department and the North Seberang Perai district land administrator, and asked the court to declare the council’s takeover of the land as illegal and to make over 20 other declarations related to the land.

MAINPP’s lawyers, Mohamad Aslam Mohamad Mydin and Ayu Rohaiza Khazali, told the High Court the matter was out of the jurisdiction of the civil courts and ought to be handled by the shariah courts since it involved wakaf land.

They also said Amin has no locus standi to claim the land since it was under Muslim endowment and also had no right to name the land administrator as a defendant, as the current court procedures did not allow it.

The lawyers said that based on these reasons, the court should allow their application to strike out Amin’s originating summons against them dated April 19.

Amin’s lawyer, Ku Abdul Rahman Ku Ismail, said MAINPP’s argument did not hold water as Amin was the legitimate heir to the property as willed by his great-grandmother, Kavana Ebrahim @ Burong, in a deed of trust dated Aug 17, 1892.

The land was originally owned by Kavana’s husband, Abdul Cauder.

Rahman said that in the will, the land was to be given up for the purpose of wakaf (endowment), to be held in trust “as long as he shall live”.

He said that since Kavana had died, the land can no longer be given up for wakaf and should be handed down to the trustees or heirs.

Hence. he added, MAINPP was wrong to say the matter did not fall under the jurisdiction of the civil courts, as the 1892 deed fell under the Trustee Act 1949.

Judicial Commissioner Amarjeet Singh said he would look into the submissions from all the parties and deliver a decision on the originating summons on Aug 1.