Court says no to Kassim's judicial review application

KUALA LUMPUR - The High Court here has refused leave for a judicial review filed by Dr Kassim @ Osman Ahmad to challenge the prosecution's decision to charge him with insulting Islam and not complying with religious authorities.

High Court judge Justice Zaleha Yusof agreed with the preliminary objection that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the former political activist and academician's application.

Justice Zaleha made the order in chambers in the presence of senior federal counsel Suzana Atan and Kassim's counsel Rosli Dahlan.

Suzana appeared for the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Federal Territories Syarie Chief Prosecutor Ibrahim Deris, Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department and the Malaysian Government while Rosli acted for Kassim.

Suzana later said the judge agreed with the prosecution's preliminary objection that the civil court had no jurisdiction to hear Kassim's application as there was a syariah criminal case involving him at the Putrajaya Syariah High Court.

Rosli said their leave was refused by Justice Zaleha as she was bound by the decision by the Federal Court in a conversion case involving a Siti Hasnah Vangarama Abdullah.

(The apex court held that the validity of Siti Hasnah's conversion in 1983 is a matter strictly within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court).

Rosli added that they would file an appeal immediately as the Syariah High Court in Putrajaya had fixed trial for Thursday.

Kassim, 81, filed the application on June 26, seeking among others a writ of certiorari order to strike out the chief syarie prosecutor's decision on March 27 to charge him with insulting Islam and defying religious authorities.

He also requested that his case proceedings in the Syariah High Court be suspended pending the decision of the judicial review.

Kassim applied for an order to cancel the action and decision of the Federal Territory Religious Department's (Jawi) enforcement officers who raided, ransacked and seized his publication materials, as well as inspected, detained and removed him from Kedah to Federal Territories.