Justice? Sorry, JAWI is not interested


This case illustrates quite clearly why there is a need for a stringent check and balance on the way Syariah laws are implemented in Malaysia. It also underlines the very real possibility of these laws being subject to abuse, miscarriage of justice and tyranny by those in power.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, MMO 

When I first wrote about the Nik Raina/Borders Books case a year ago, it seemed to be easy enough of a case to understand even for a layperson to the law such as myself.

Borders Books store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz had been charged with committing a crime, namely selling a book (Irshad Manji’s Allah, Liberty and Love) deemed contrary to Islamic Law under Section 13 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997. She faced the possibility of a RM3 000 fine, a maximum of two years’ jail or both.

However, there were at least two main problems with the charge: the book had not yet been banned at that point of time and it wasn’t the Federal Territory Islamic Department (JAWI)’s job anyway to enforce the work of the Home Ministry.

The book was only banned a week later. In other words, Nik Raina had been charged for selling a book that was perfectly legal. It was evident from the very onset that there was no case and that no offence had been committed.

The judgement of the judicial review by High Court Judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof last March made this official and stated what everyone except JAWI seemed to already know. Fundamentally, you cannot retroactively charge a person for a crime that was not yet deemed a crime at the time of the incident. A first year law student could easily come to the same conclusion. It was fairly obvious that this whole case was and is a total screw-up by JAWI.

Somehow, despite this basic common law fact and the High Court judgement which is now several months old, JAWI seems to be extremely reluctant to proceed to drop the charge against Nik Raina. The case has since experienced three postponements in the Syariah Court within a single month and the charge has yet to be withdrawn based on the judgement of the High Court. Perhaps it’s time for the Syariah prosecutors to go back to school.

Let us be clear. Proceeding to maintain a charge against Nik Raina would basically be an injustice to her and gives the Syariah courts and JAWI a stink and a bad name.

Judging from the behaviour of both parties of late, it seems that they really don’t give a damn or more importantly consider unimportant the fact that an injustice has been and continues to be inflicted onto Nik Raina.

The reasons given to her for the postponements were that the presiding Syariah judge had to attend a meeting in Penang (August 28), that there had been a mix-up in dates (September 3), and the esteemed judge was attending yet another meeting (September 13).

Meetings are obviously more important than someone being unjustly charged under the Syariah system. The case has since been postponed indefinitely with no end in sight for Nik Raina who has now endured this ordeal for more than 18 months.

Read more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/opinion/azrul-mohd-khalib/article/justice-sorry-jawi-is-not-interested