Appeals Court quashes Jawi action against Kassim Ahmad, awards damages

Dr Kassim Ahmad
PHOTO: The Star and Dr Zakaria Ali

PUTRAJAYA: A fatwa made by the Federal Territories mufti is not binding on citizens of other states, ruled the Court of Appeal.

In deciding on the judicial review by former political activist Dr Kassim Ahmad who was charged with disobeying a fatwa, Justice Vernon Ong Liam Kiat found the charge to be a non-offence as it only applied to residents of the Federal Territories.

"The fact that he's a Kedah resident, clearly he's not obliged to obey a FT (Federal territories) Fatwa," ruled Justice Ong.

They allowed the application to squash the warrant of arrest and prosecution case by the Federal Territory Religious Department (Jawi).

The panel also ruled that Dr Kassim's Constitutional right to a lawyer was violated as he was detained without legal counsel for over 24 hours.

The panel, that included Justices Abdul Rahman Sebli and Hasnah Mohammed Hashim, ordered RM20,000 in costs to be paid to Dr Kassim, and instructed a deputy registrar to assess damages to be paid over the unlawful detention.

Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan acted for the Jawi, while Rosli Dahlan represented Dr Kassim.

Dr Kassim, who travelled from Kedah to attend the proceedings, said he was grateful for the civil court's decision, though the Syariah case still hung over him.

He faces two charges of insulting the Islamic religion and disobeying a Federal Territories fatwa in relation to anti-hadith groups.

He is alleged to have committed the offences during a talk he gave at the Perdana Leadership Foundation at Jalan PBH, Precint 8, here on Feb 16, 2014.

Dr Kassim filed a judicial review on June 26, 2014 seeking to strike out the prosecution's decision and suspend the Syariah High Court proceedings pending the decision of the judicial review.