State governments urged to review provisions of syariah laws

KUALA LUMPUR: The Syariah Lawyers Association (PGSM) urged the state governments to review all existing provisions of the syariah criminal laws to ensure that they could no longer be challenged by certain quarters.

Its president Musa Awang, in a statement today, said apart from the state governments, the authorities also needed to take a drastic and holistic action to study and review the provisions.

He was commenting on Federal Court’s decision that declared as unconstitutional a provision in the Selangor syariah law which makes it an offence to engage in unnatural sex.

A nine-member bench led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat held that Section 28 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 relates to matters that fall under the Federal Constitution’s Ninth Schedule Federal list, under Parliament’s power to enact laws.

Meanwhile, Musa claimed that the Federal Court’s decision had significant implications for syariah law in the country, especially in matters related to syariah criminal offences in the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment of the states.

“It means that the states will not have the power to enact provisions on syariah criminal offences if there is a similar provision in the federal law enacted by the Parliament, even if the offences are committed by Muslims,” he said.

Musa also claimed that the decision would open space for anyone else to challenge other provisions contained in Syariah Criminal Enactment of the states.

“The decision shows that as long as there is a provision on a criminal offence in federal law, the states would face difficulties in making state laws on syariah criminal offences even though the offence is committed by a Muslim.

“That decision is also an early indicator of the ‘closing of doors’ to the proposal to implement laws relating to hudud and qisas in this country, this is because hudud offences such as theft (sariqah), robbery (hirabah), as well as qisas offences such as murder (al-qatl) are also contained in the Penal Code,” he added. – Bernama