SIS-difatwasesat-nst-bhKUALA LUMPUR – 24 June 2016 (NST): The High Court today ruled that only the Syariah Court has the power to decide on the validity of the Selangor fatwa that labelled Sisters In Islam (SIS) as a ‘deviant group.’

Judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah made this ruling in dismissing a legal challenge by SIS Forum (Malaysia) and two others against the decision of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Council (MAIS) and the Selangor Fatwa Committee to brand SIS as deviating from Islamic teachings.

Hanipah ruled that the civil court has no jurisdiction to hear the judicial review as only the Syariah Court has exclusive jurisdiction to determine the validity of a fatwa per Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 121(1A) states that Malaysia’s civil courts have no power to decide on matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts such as issues of fatwa and “aqidah”(faith).

“That the applicants have no remedy in the Syariah Courts does not give jurisdiction to the civil courts.

“It is for the legislators (lawmakers in parliament) to provide the remedy,” said Hanipah, adding that as a result she would not proceed to hear the merits of the judicial review application. She then dismissed the legal bid.

Outside court, counsel Datuk Malik Imtiaz, who acted for SIS Forum (Malaysia) and two others, said his clients would appeal.

Counsel Majdah Muda and Yusfarizal Yussoff acted for MAIS and the Selangor Fatwa Committee, two of the respondents in the matter.

Assistant State Legal Advisors Haizam Irwan Toha and Naziah Mokhtar appeared for the Selangor state government, a co-respondent.

On Oct 31, 2014, SIS and two others – the group’s co-founder Zainah Mahfoozah Anwar and former minister in the prime minister’s department Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim – had filed an application for a court order to revoke the fatwa decision.

The fatwa stated that SIS and any individual as well as groups which carried the deviant ideologies of liberalism and pluralism as deviating from Islamic teachings.