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SIS petition hearing on judicial review by Shariah High Courts concluded

15 Oct 2021

On 12th October 2021, the Federal Court heard the petition by Sisters in Islam (SIS) challenging the validity of Section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.

Section 66A of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 which states that the Shariah High Courts have the jurisdiction to hear judicial reviews against the decisions of state religious councils or committees, came into force on 22 May 2015, after SIS had obtained leave by the High Court to be heard for a judicial review of a fatwa issued against SIS in July 2014.

Held online, the Federal Court hearing is presided by Federal Court judges, YAA Tan Sri Rohana binti Yusuf, YAA Tan Sri Dato' Sri Azahar bin Mohamed, YAA Dato' Abang Iskandar bin Abang Hashim, YA Datuk Seri Haji Mohd Zawawi bin Salleh, YA Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, YA Puan Sri Dato' Zaleha binti Yusof, YA Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal and YA Dato' Rhodzariah binti Bujang and chaired by Chief Justice, YAA Tun Tengku Maimun binti Tuan Mat. YAA Tun Tengku Maimun informed that the judgement will be issued at a later date.

Previously, in a separate action, SIS initiated a judicial review against Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS), the Selangor State Fatwa Committee and the Selangor state government after the religious body issued a fatwa which declared SIS as deviants for subscribing to liberalism and religious pluralism.

in 2016, SIS had filed a notice of appeal after High Court judge YA Datuk Hanipah Farikullah delivered judgment at the first hearing, stating that the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear SIS' fatwa case as the subject matter pertains to the religion of Islam, thus falling under the jurisdiction of the syariah courts.

SIS had won the appeal as the Court of Appeal had instructed the case to be remitted back to the High Court. However, in 2019, following the respondents appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision, the Federal Court had ordered the suit to be remitted back to the High Court which resulted in a disappointing outcome where the application for SIS judicial review against the fatwa was dismissed with a RM10,000 cost. S15 had then filed for an appeal on this matter.

Despite the ongoing fatwa case, SIS continues our work of advancing and advocating the rights of Muslim women and children in Malaysia. For more than 30 years, SIS has been carrying the voices of women from the grassroots to the highest levels of policy making.

Among SIS work includes advocating to end practices that are detrimental to children such as child marriage where we advocate for the legal minimum age of marriage is 18 years old for both men and women, female genital mutilation (FGM) which is practiced on baby girls in Malaysia, naming of "bin/binti Abdullah" to children born out of wedlock and to end genderbased violence.

SIS also champions issues such as wife and children's maintenance, tightening polygamy conditions and enforcement, criminalising marital rape and promoting gender equality in Muslim marriages and Islamic Family Laws.

During the pandemic, SiS continued to advocate and raise awareness to the public through multiple online programmes such as #Telenisa Tells LIVE, public forums, study sessions and conducted multiple online engagements on reform, Islam and women's rights.

Furthermore, SIS, through its Telenisa line, has helped over 10,000 women and men by providing free legal consultation on their rights within the Islamic Family Laws. The data that Telenisa receives is then analysed and is published in the Telenisa: Statistics and Findings book annually.

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