KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — The High Court has rejected the application for judicial review by a Malaysian woman seeking to renounce Islam and return to Christianity.
Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Shahid in delivering his decision said the judicial review falls within the Shariah Courts and agreed with the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) that only the Islamic courts can handle such matters.
He said the applicant had entered Islam in 2017 and despite her requests to the Kuala Lumpur Registrar of Muallaf (ROM) to remove her name from the registrar as she no longer believed in Islam, it was still a matter for the Shariah Courts.
“The ultimate subject matter of the applicant falls clearly in the jurisdiction of the Shariah Court. Therefore by virtue of Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, the subject matter of the application is not amenable to judicial review and leave for judicial review should be refused by this court,” he said.
The 26-year-old woman converted to Islam to marry her then boyfriend who was a Malay Muslim on August 18, 2017. Their relationship ended before the wedding and now she wants to return to being a Christian.
She is seeking declarations that the Shariah Courts do not have the jurisdiction under the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993, also known as Act 505, to cancel her status as a Muslim but rather the Registrar of Muallaf (ROM) who oversees Muslim converts.
She also argued that Section 91 of Act 505 is unconstitutional as it states that those who embrace Islam are Muslim for life, adding that this provision is in conflict with Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution, which provides that every person has the right to profess and practise his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.
In addition, she also said that Section 85(1) of Act 505 is unconstitutional as it states that those who utter the kalimah syahadah — the declaration of belief for Islam — automatically become Muslim, but the provision does not state that those who do so must believe in the religion.
The three respondents named in the judicial review application are the Federal Territories ROM, the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and the government of Malaysia.
The woman was represented by Iqbal Harith Liang from Messrs Fahri, Azzat & Co who requested no charges be laid upon his client as it was a public matter.
The federal counsel was Muhammad Salehuddin Md Ali who acted for the three respondents. He requested RM5,000 arguing that it was her personal request to leave Islam and that just because the media got wind of it, it shouldn't be considered a public matter.
Judge Ahmad set the costs at RM3,000.