Malaysia’s Supreme Court rules that some Islamic laws in Kelantan are unconstitutional | Courts News
Majority rule can have significant legal implications in a multiethnic state that operates a dual judicial system.
Malaysia’s Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional 16 Islamic laws in the northeastern state of Kelantan, in a landmark decision that could have major implications for the country’s legal system.
The Federal Court ruled by a majority of 8 to 1 on Friday that the Kelantan state government had no authority to enact laws relating to crimes from sodomy to sexual harassment, possession of false information, drunkenness and size measurements, as they were already covered by federal law and fell under the responsibility of the Federal Parliament.
Malaysia is a federal state in which states have jurisdiction over laws relating to Islam, the official religion. It also operates a dual legal system in which Islamic law applies to Muslims, who make up just over 60 percent of the population, in personal and family matters, as well as the practice of their religion. Civil courts consider all other crimes.
The state of Kelantan, considered the heartland of Malaysian Islamic culture, has been governed by the Malaysian opposition party (Paris Islam Malaysia) since 1990.
“The power of Parliament and the state legislatures is limited by the Federal Constitution, and they cannot legislate “Whatever laws they want.”
The case was filed in 2022 by Kelantan lawyer Nik Aileen Zorina Nik Abdul Rashid and her daughter after the state government passed a new set of laws related to Islamic crimes.
The two challenged the constitutionality of 18 laws, arguing that they are outside the jurisdiction of the State Assembly and are already covered by Parliament.
The Federal Court did not invalidate the other two laws, stressing that the two women did not bring the case to challenge the position of Islam or the Islamic legal system.
About a thousand people, including PAS supporters and conservative Muslims, gathered outside the court in Putrajaya before the ruling was issued.
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