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Maria Chin gets leave to challenge Syariah Court's committal proceedings

Maria was represented by counsel Rosli Dahlan, along with Zeti Zulfah Hassan @ Zulkifli, Kong Xin Qing, Amiratu Al Amirat Saleh Garbaa and Khairul Izzat Azmi.

22 August 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah has obtained leave to initiate legal proceedings to challenge the Syariah High Court's decision to allow committal proceedings against her for criticising the court's decision in sentencing a businessman’s former wife to jail.

High Court Judge Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh also granted Maria’s request for a stay order of the committal proceedings in the Syariah Court pending disposal of the judicial review application.

The judge allowed Maria’s leave application for a judicial review after ruling that she had not challenged any part of the Islamic law that falls within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court, but that she was challenging the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court over the committal proceedings against her.

He said Maria came to this court complaining that her right under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, which states that no person shall be deprived of life or personal liberty, is at stake.

"The applicant says that the contempt proceedings taken as a whole are an affront to her liberty as the proceedings were based on Section 229 of Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1998.

"It does not matter whether she is an MP or a street hawker, the court will not stand idly blind. The applicant has adduced enough material in arguing the contempt proceedings could be tainted with procedural impropriety," said the judge when delivering the decision via online proceedings.

He then fixed Sept 15 for case management.

Maria, 65, filed the application naming then minister in the prime minister's department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri; Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur Syariah Judiciary Department as the first to third respondents.

Maria, among other things, applied for the civil High Court to quash the action and decision of the Syariah High Court on Oct 14, 2019, which she claimed had wrongly allowed the committal order and for a show cause notice to be issued on her, as it was against the provisions of the Federal Constitution and violated Rule 52 of the Rules of Court 2012 and the Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1998.

On Dec 4, 2020, Maria was ordered to show cause in the committal proceedings, as to why she should not be charged with contempt of court for criticising the Syariah High Court's decision.

This was due to the court rejecting her application for an extension of time to challenge the court's decision to allow committal proceedings to be initiated against her.

The application to initiate the committal proceedings was filed by the businessman following Maria’s comment which questioned the court’s decision in imposing a seven-day jail sentence on his ex-wife for rescheduling the visitation rights given to him on her own.

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan represented Maria, while senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly acted for all the respondents. - Bernama

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