Go Ahead for SIS to Challenge Shariah Courts to hear Judicial Review

The Federal Court has granted leave for the application by Sisters in Islam (SIS) to challenge the validity of Section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003. This is an application for leave pursuant to Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution in the Federal Court to declare section 66A invalid on the ground that the Selangor State Legislature (“SSL”) has no power to make such a law under the Federal Constitution.

YA Dato’ Zabariah Binti Mohd. Yusof presided over the leave application. Section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment states that the Shariah High Courts have the jurisdiction to hear judicial reviews against the decisions of state religious councils or committees.

Rozana Isa, Executive Director of SIS states, “The Federal Court in allowing leave for this application recognises that the concern we raise here is valid and not frivolous.”

Previously, in a separate action, SIS initiated a judicial review against MAIS, the Selangor State Fatwa Committee and the Selangor state government after the religious body issued a fatwa which declared SIS as deviants for subscribing to liberalism and religious pluralism. The challenge was met with a disappointing outcome as the High Court decided that the matter is under the jurisdiction of the Shariah Courts. In January 2020, the High Court granted SIS a stay of execution of the enforcement of the fatwa pending its appeal, which SIS will be undertaking in due course.

Despite the ongoing fatwa case, SIS continues our work of advancing and advocating the rights of Muslim women and children in Malaysia. For 33 years, SIS has been carrying the voices of women from the grassroots to the highest levels of policy making. Among SIS work includes advocating to end practices that are detrimental to children such as child marriage where we advocate for the legal minimum age of marriage is 18 years old for both men and women, female genital mutilation (FGM) which is practiced on baby girls in Malaysia, “bin/binti Abdullah” to children born out of wedlock and gender based violence.

SIS, through its Telenisa line, has helped over 10,000 women and men by providing free legal consultation on Islamic Family and Shariah Criminal Offences Laws. SIS also champions issues such as wife and children’s maintenance, tightening polygamy conditions and enforcement, criminalising marital rape and promoting gender equality in Muslim marriages and Islamic Family Laws.

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