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I'm questioning Kelantan govt’s lawmaking powers not God, says lawyer in Shariah criminal code challenge ahead of PAS protest

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — Lawyer Nik Elin Zurina Nik Abdul Rashid has hit back at Perikatan Nasional (PN) for spreading disinformation ahead of its protest against her challenge of controversial Shariah criminal laws in PAS-led Kelantan to be heard in Federal Court.

Speaking to Malaysiakini, she said she is merely challenging the Kelantan state government’s competency in enacting Shariah laws, contending that the state government has no jurisdiction to enact offences that fall under federal jurisdiction.

“They said I am challenging God, challenging Shariah law. What I am challenging is 'takzir' in the enactment,” she reportedly said, referring to the punishment against Shariah offences meted out by the court.

“My challenge is also about the Kelantan state assembly enacting laws without competency. It has nothing to do with Islamic doctrine."

Nik Elin said protestors who plan to protest the matter on the November 20 hearing outside the Palace of Justice, Putrajaya have a right to do so, just as she has a right to challenge the matter in court — but only provided that they adhere to the guidelines set by law and security considerations.

However, Nik Elin said that the protestors should not twist the facts of the case.

“But if they want to assemble while manipulating facts, I do not condone that,” she was quoted saying.

Nik Elin and her daughter Tengku Yasmin Natasha Tengku Abdul Rahman had in May filed a constitutional challenge to nullify and void 20 provisions in the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019.

The mother-daughter pair claimed the Kelantan legislative assembly has no powers to make criminal laws, and cited Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution.

Under Article 4(4), the validity of any laws made by the Parliament or state legislature can be questioned in court.

In August, a panel of nine Federal Court judges heard a constitutional review of 20 provisions in the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code (I) Enactment 2019 as part of the proceedings for Nik Elin’s case and the panel’s chair was reported saying during the hearing that there was no dispute arising over Islam as the official religion of the federation.

PAS leaders, including its president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang who is Marang MP, and secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan who is also Kota Baru MP, have repeatedly accused the federal government of not standing up for Islam even after the federal Islamic affairs minister said the Anwar administration’s stand is not to intervene in court cases.

Nik Elin said anyone who claims to fight for Shariah law should abolish all the state enactments that contradict the Federal Constitution.

“If we really want to strengthen the Shariah court, expedite the divorce cases that have been delayed and resolve cases of dishonest husbands who don’t pay 'nafkah' and practice polygamy without permission,” she added, referring to alimony.

Further, slamming PAS secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan’s claims in parliament that the federal court granted leave to hear the case in 2023, she clarified that leave was granted on September 30 last year before the general elections, while the PAS was still part of the federal government.

The protests organised by PN will have separate gatherings beginning in Kelantan today, then Terengganu and Putrajaya on November 18 and 20 respectively.

In August, several groups said that all laws, including state Shariah laws, are subjected to the same law-making process — following claims that Islam is under threat by critics.

The groups said the law-making process includes proposing the laws through a Bill at the state assembly which is then followed by three readings before they are passed and submitted for royal assent.