KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The Dewan Rakyat Speaker and its secretary have asked the courts to strike out a lawsuit by the son of a former deputy prime minister over proposed amendments for heftier Shariah penalties, a lawyer confirmed today.
Mansoor Saat, the lawyer for Mohamed Tawfik Ismail who filed the lawsuit, said Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Kamaludin Md Said will hear on January 11 the application for dismissal by the sole two respondents, Dewan Rakyat’s Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah.
Mansoor told Malay Mail Online that the duo cited the Federal Constitution’s Articles 62(1) and 63(1) provisions on the supremacy of Parliament for their application, noting that it revolves around the argument that “Parliament can set its own procedures on what to do and they have freedom to do what they want to do”.
Article 62(1) states that each House of Parliament shall regulate its own procedure subject to constitutional provisions and federal law, while Article 63(1) states that the validity of any parliamentary proceedings shall not be questioned in any court.
Mansoor said his client will challenge the application, however, arguing that the two constitutional provisions cited by those sued are only general provisions regarding Parliament and that the Federal Constitution requires royal consent for PAS’s private member’s Bill before it can be considered in Parliament.
“But on specific issues like Islamic matters, to make a new law with regards to Islamic matters, you got to go to the Conference of Rulers for consent before bringing it to Parliament.
“Our argument is we are not a parliamentary democracy, we are a constitutional democracy, meaning Federal Constitution is the supreme law and everything else — which includes the Act enacted from Parliament — flows down from the Federal Constitution.
“In other words, Parliament is still subject to the Constitution, they are not above the Federal Constitution, they are below the Constitution. Because of that, they got to get royal consent before they can bring this matter to Parliament for debate,” he said when contacted today.
Mansoor confirmed that his client will not apply for an injunction or court order to stop the private member’s Bill from being debated in Parliament, but expressed hope that the Dewan Rakyat Speaker will refrain from allowing it, saying: “We hope the Speaker will respect the doctrine of sub judice.”
The hearing of Tawfik’s lawsuit was initially fixed for today, but was postponed and replaced with case management for the striking out application, Mansoor said.
He said the application was filed on August 24, but his client came to know about it after receiving the official sealed copy of the striking out application on October 13.
On March 31, Tawfik filed his lawsuit in the form of an originating summons, where he sought 10 declarations and orders that would effectively stop PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang from tabling his private member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.
The son of the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman asked the courts to declare Hadi’s proposal to increase Shariah sentencing to be in violation of the Federal Constitution and parliamentary procedure.
Among other things, Tawfik claimed Hadi’s Bill would change “national policy”, and must first be referred to the Conference of Rulers for consultation and consent as required by the Federal Constitution’s Article 38, which he alleged was not done.
Article 38 states, among others, that the Conference of Rulers “may deliberate on questions of national policy” and any other matter that it thinks fit.
Hadi’s motion to propose his Private Member’s Bill is in the Order Papers for the ongoing Dewan Rakyat meeting running from October 23 to November 30, the seventh time it has formally entered Parliament’s agenda.
Hadi’s motion, which was listed as the fourth item in the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Papers today, has not advanced to the second reading and debate phase.
He is seeking to increase the Shariah courts’ sentencing limits from the current three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes to a new maximum of 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes.