Kassim Ahmad Fails To Stay Syariah Proceeding, Oct 20 Set For Trial

PUTRAJAYA, July 17 (Bernama) -- Former political and social activist, Dr Kassim Ahmad who was charged for insulting Islam, failed on Thursday to prevent the Federal Territories Syarie chief prosecutor from pursuing his case in the Syariah High Court here.

A three-member panel chaired by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif rejected Kassim's application to stay the Civil High Court's refusal of his application to challenge the prosecution's decision of having charged him in the Syariah High Court.

Kassim is seeking a stay to prevent the prosecution from pursuing the case in the Syariah Court pending disposal of his appeal over the Civil High Court ruling.

Justice Md Raus who heard the stay application with Justices Datuk Linton Albert and Datuk Wira Mohtarudin Baki said the bench agreed with submissions by senior federal counsel Nor Hisham Ismail that stay should not be granted and the court had fixed July 24 to hear Kassim's appeal over the High Court ruling.

"As I said, the matter is before the Syariah Court. The application for stay is dismissed. You can ask for an early date for the appeal," said Justice Md Raus to counsel Rosli Dahlan, who represented Kassim.

On July 14, the Kuala Lumpur High Court in dismissing Kassim's leave application for a judicial review to challenge the prosecution's decision of having charged him in the Syariah High Court, ruled that the civil court had no jurisdiction to hear the application and the matter was also within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

High Court judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof made the ruling after allowing the preliminary objection by the Attorney-General's Chambers against Kassim's leave application.

Kassim, 81, filed the application at the Putrajaya Syariah High Court on June 26, seeking among others, a writ of certiorari order to strike out the Syarie chief prosecutor's decision on March 27 to prosecute him for insulting Islam and defying the religious authorities,

He also requested that his case proceedings in the Syariah High Court be suspended pending the decision of the judicial review.

Kassim also applied for an order to quash the action and decision of Jawi (Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department) enforcement officers who had allegedly raided, ransacked and seized his published materials, as well as inspected, detained and removed him from Kedah to the Federal Territory (FT).

He also applied for an order to strike out any arrest, search and confiscation warrants and bond attached there to, a declaration that the action of Jawi officers and the prosecution against him were ultra vires and contravened the provisions in the Federal Constitution, Federal Territories Syariah Acts and Kedah Syariah Enactments, and a declaration that the offence of violating a "fatwa" (edict) issued in the FT only applied to FT residents.

In the Syariah High Court today, Syarie judge Azzeman Omar fixed Oct 20 to 22 to try the case of Kassim who had pleaded not guilty to three charges against him.

Azzeman fixed the dates after rejecting the preliminary objection from Rosli made on May to postpone the case hearing and for the third charge not be read to his client.

In his decision, Azzeman said the Syariah Court had the jurisdiction to hear and decide on the case.

On the first charge, Kassim is alleged to have insulted Islam in his speech made at a seminar on "Kassim Ahmad's Thoughts: An Evaluation of the Roadmap of the Malays and Malaysia for the Next 30 Years".

In the second charge, he is alleged to have quoted from two of his books titled, "Hadith: A Review" and "Hadith: A Reply to Critics" which have been banned by the Federal Territories fatwa (edict).

Kassim had initially faced two charges but today, the third charge was read out against him, in which he is alleged to have questioned the wearing of the hijab (head-cover) by Muslim women, saying that "hair is not part of the aurat" (parts of a woman's body which should not be exposed, according to Islamic teachings).

He is alleged to have committed all the offences at the Perdana Global Foundation premises in Precinct 8, here, between 9am and 5pm on Feb 16, 2014.

The offences come under Section 7(b) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 and Section 9 of the same Act, whereby he faces a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or a jail term of up to two years, or both, upon conviction.

Syarie senior prosecutor Che Saufi Che Husin appeared for the prosecution while Kassim was represented by Syarie lawyer Zaini Zainol.


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