State Islamic religious councils to appear as amicus curiae in govt’s appeal in “allah” case

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal here today allowed three state Islamic religious councils to appear as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the government’s appeal against a High Court’s ruling on a Sarawakian native Christian’s right to use the word “Allah” in her religious education.

The three councils are the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP), the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) and the Kedah state Islamic Religious Council.

An amicus curiae is not a party to a legal suit but is one who is permitted to assist the court by giving information or advice with respect to some matter of law that directly affects the case.

A Court of Appeal three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk Yaacob Md Sam, Datuk S.Nantha Balan and Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali allowed the councils’ applications to come in as amicus curiae in the appeal.

Justice Yaacob, who led the bench however said the councils would have to apply to the panel of judges that would hear the appeal on whether they could address the court during the appeal hearing.

Earlier, Justice Yaacob allowed the councils to withdraw their applications to intervene in the appeal and struck out the applications with no liberty to file afresh. He also did not make any orders on costs.

An intervenor is one who intervenes as a third party in a legal proceeding.

In the proceedings conducted online, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla representing the councils informed the court that following a discussion by parties in the appeal, it was agreed that the councils withdraw their intervener applications and instead they will appear as amicus curiae.

Lawyer Lim Heng Seng representing Sarawakian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill confirmed and asked the court to strike out the applications with no liberty to file afresh. He also asked for costs.

Federal Counsel Noor Atiqah Zainal Abidin representing the Home Ministry and the government also told the court that she has no objection to the withdrawal of the intervener applications and well as for the councils to appear as amicus curiae.

On March 10, last year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, in a landmark decision, ruled that Christians nationwide can use the word “Allah” and three other Arabic words in their religious publications for educational purposes.

It had allowed Jill Ireland’s judicial review and granted her declaratory orders including a declaration that she had the constitutional rights under the Federal Constitution to import the publications in the exercise of her rights to practise her religion and right to education.

The High Court also ruled that a 1986 Home Ministry’s directive of banning the use of the words “Allah, Baitullah, Kaabah and solat” by non-muslims were unlawful and unconstitutional.

The Home Ministry and the government subsequently filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal on March 15, last year.

The case management for the government’s appeal is fixed on Jan 26. –Bernama

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