Selangor Religious Council seeks to intervene in SIS’ move to challenge law

Lawyers Maizatul Amalina Ahmed Mustaza (left) and Surendra Ananth with Sisters in Islam executive director Rozana Isa at an earlier hearing.

PUTRAJAYA: The Selangor Islamic Religious Council has applied to intervene in a suit by women’s rights group Sisters in Islam (SIS), which is seeking a declaration that a state enactment allowing the state Shariah High Court to review fatwas issued by the state religious authorities is unconstitutional.

Lawyer Maizatul Amalina Ahmed Mustaza, who represented SIS, said the application would only be heard in the event the Federal Court allowed her client leave application.

“The council’s intervener application will be heard subject to a single judge allowing the leave application before the merit of the case can be heard,” she told FMT after case management before deputy registrar Azniza Mohd Ali.

Amalina said the court had fixed July 20 for the leave hearing.

“Parties will appear in person before a judge as our application to have virtual proceedings did not have the support of the council,” she said.

SIS filed the challenge under Article 4 (3) on grounds that the state legislature cannot pass Section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.

Section 66A states that shariah high courts in Selangor have the jurisdiction to hear judicial reviews against the decisions of state religious councils or committees.

The applicant is arguing that any judicial review of a law passed by Parliament and state assemblies can only be heard before a civil high court.

SIS filed the application in the Federal Court on Jan 21 after a High Court in Kuala Lumpur last year dismissed its judicial review application against a Selangor religious authority’s fatwa labelling the group as deviant.

Citing Section 66A, judge Nordin Hassan ruled that it was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Selangor Shariah Court to determine legal challenges against a fatwa issued by a state religious committee.

Amalina said an appeal was also pending in the Court of Appeal to reverse Nordin’s decision.

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