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Federal Court To Hear If Constitutional Rights Applicable In Islamic Law

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PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court is set to hear if fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens as enshrined in the Federal Constitution are applicable in Islamic law.

Two questions of law have been put forward in an appeal by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) against the landmark decision by the Court of Appeal to allow non-Muslim lawyers to practice Syariah law.

The Federal Court will hear the appeal on whether Rule 10 of the Rules for Syariah Lawyers 1993 – which mandates that only Muslims can be admitted as Syarie lawyers – contravenes Articles 5, 8 and 10 of the Constitution governing equality, liberty and right to form associations, and is therefore void.

It will also decide whether Rule 10 goes beyond the ambit of powers granted by the Administration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Act 1993.

MAIWP is raising the issue of public importance in the case of lawyer Victoria Jayaseele Martin, 52, who is seeking to be admitted as a Syariah lawyer in the Federal Territory (FT).

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said MAIWP was raising the issue that all Islamic enactment provisions should not be tested against fundamental liberties clauses of the Federal Constitution.

It is to be heard before a five-man panel chaired by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria.

Federal Court’s deputy registrar Khainur Aleeza Ismail set Aug 13 for the court to hear arguments over the issue after the parties met her here on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters here, Martin’s counsel Ranjit Singh said it was Constitutional issue of monumental importance being raised by MAIWP.

On March 17, 2011, Martin, who has a Masters degree in Comparative Law from the International Islamic University (IIU), lost her bid at the High Court to challenge the requirement that a Syarie lawyer in Kuala Lumpur must be a Muslim.

On June 21, 2013, then Court of Appeal judge Justice Abu Samah Nordin, leading a three-member Bench, reversed the ruling, saying the law governing the appointment of Syarie lawyers does not specify that applicants must be Muslim.

Martin had on Aug 24, 2009 applied to practise as a Syariah lawyer in the FT but was rejected on Sept 9, 2009, on the grounds that she was not a person who professed the religion of Islam as required by Rule 10.

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