Report: Only Syariah court can decide on renunciation, not civil courts; judge says

THE High Court had dismissed a lady’s bid to mount a legal case so as to renounce her religion, adding civil courts have no power to hear it.  

According to Free Malaysia Today, Justice Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid had stated that Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution clearly mentions that such powers are vested under the Shariah courts.  

“To me, it does not matter what the decision (made by the shariah court) is, but the issue is that the civil courts have no jurisdiction to hear matters within shariah courts nor do they have power to review a shariah court’s decision in cases involving the renunciation of Islam. 

“The shariah courts have also done nothing wrong in determining her case as it was within their jurisdiction and have not acted ultra vires when they made the order,” he stated.  

Last month, the judge dismissed the 32-year-old woman’s legal bid to renounce Islam. At the time, Ahmad Kamal did not provide grounds on why he had refused to hear her case.  

The woman, who had her identity protected for legal reasons, had claimed that she had never practised Islam all her life and her mother had allowed her to choose her own faith.  

She had sought redress at the Syariah Court in 2018 to leave Islam but was told to attend 12 counselling sessions first.  

Soon after, the Syariah Court rejected her application in 2020 and told her to go for further counselling, The Syariah Court of Appeal also upheld the ruling.  

She then sought the civil courts to nullify the Syariah Court’s decision, claiming the rejection runs contrary to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.  

Her lawyers had since filed an appeal over the High Court’s ruling. – July 12, 2022

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