The court has the jurisdiction to hear the challenge on PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's motion to amend Act 355, lawyer Rosli Dahlan told the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today.
Last year, former Umno MP Tawfik Ismail filed an application to prevent Hadi’s motion on amendments to Act 355, or the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, from being tabled in Parliament.
Appearing for Tawfik (photo), Rosli told the court that it is the duty of the judiciary to keep Parliament within its constitutional limits when a statutory law or the Federal Constitution are involved.
The lawyer added that the courts are only prevented from interfering with matters relating to the internal proceedings of the Dewan Rakyat, which are regulated by the parliamentary standing orders.
Justice Kamaludin Md Said heard the application by Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to strike out Tawfik's suit in chambers.
Pandikar had argued that proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat are not justiciable in the courts due to parliamentary privilege guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.
However, Rosli pointed out that Pandikar misled the court by quoting extensively from English cases on parliamentary privilege.
"On the issue of constitutional powers of Parliament and its procedures, United Kingdom case law is not helpful because the UK has no written constitution.
"In the UK, there is no federal division of powers, and rulers with exclusive power over religion and custom, but we do," he said.
Unlike Malaysia, the Parliament in the UK is supreme due to a historical tussle with the crown.
In March 2017, Tawfik, the son of the former deputy prime minister Ismail Abdul Rahman, filed the suit seeking a declaration that the proposed amendments to Act 355 were unconstitutional.
He named Pandikar and Dewan Rakyat secretary Roosme Hamzah as defendants.
Meanwhile, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan argued that the suit brought by Tawfik was directly related to the proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat.
"Thus, the court has no jurisdiction to question the validity of the said decision by virtue of Article 63 of the Federal Constitution," he submitted.
Shamsul said it was premature for Tawfik to challenge Hadi's motion in court because it was only listed in Parliament's Order Paper and the bill has yet to be tabled.