Council wants say in challenge to shariah law on unnatural sex

Lawyer says the Selangor Religious Council wants to be a party in the Federal Court case because they are responsible for the affairs of Muslims in the state. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Selangor Religious Council has applied to be a party in a legal challenge by an individual on whether the state legislature is competent to pass a shariah law that makes it an offence to engage in unnatural sex.

Lawyer Surendra Ananth, who is representing the man, whose identity is being withheld, said the council wanted to intervene as it was an interested party.

“The council wants to be a party in the Federal Court because they are responsible for the affairs of Muslims in the state,” he told FMT.

The lawyer, however, said his client would be filing an application to stop the council from becoming a party.

A case management will be held on July 7

Surendra said the Selangor government, who is the only defendant in the constitutional challenge, has filed its defence.

On May 14, Federal Court judge Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, sitting alone, allowed the individual’s leave application, filed under Article 4 (4) of the Federal Constitution.

Abang Iskandar said leave is required and necessary as the applicant’s complaint questions the competency of the state in legislating a matter on the federal list.

“The applicant has shown an arguable case and this cannot be termed frivolous or an abuse of the court process,” he added.

The man was charged in the shariah lower court last year for attempting to commit sexual intercourse against the order of nature in November 2018 with certain other men in Selangor.

Under Section 28 of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995, it is an offence for any person to perform “sexual intercourse against the order of nature” with any man, woman or animal.

Those found guilty can fined up to RM5,000 fine or jailed for a maximum three years or given a maximum of six strokes of the cane, or a combination of these penalties.

The man claimed trial in the religious court but also went to the Federal Court to challenge the validity and constitutionality of the Section 28 provision.

He wants a declaration that the provision is invalid as the Selangor state legislative assembly had no powers to pass such a law.

The man said only Parliament had the power to enact a penal law, as provided under the First List in the Federal Constitution.

Surendra said the man’s legal challenge would only be heard after the Federal Court decided whether to allow the Selangor Religious Council’s intervener application.

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