PETRA JAYA: The Federal Court is expected to deliver its judgment tomorrow (Tuesday) on whether the state Syariah Court has the jusrisdiction to decide on four apostasy cases involving Sarawakians.

The decision will be made a five-member panel comprising Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Tan Sri Ramly Ali and Tan Sri Jeffrey Tan after hearing defence lawyer Baru Bian, who is representing the four.

The four are seeking to renounce their status as Muslims.

Three of the appellants; Mohd Syafiq Abdullah @ Tiong Choo Ting, Jenny Peter @ Nur Muzdhalifah Abdullah, and Salina Abdullah had converted to Islam for marriage. However, Nur Muzdhalifah and Salina returned to Christianity after their divorces in 2006 and 2010, respectively.

Mohd Syafiq also returned to Christianity after his wife died in 2007.

Meanwhile, the fourth case involved Syarifah Nooraffyzza Wan Hose, a born-Muslim, who left the Islam and embraced Christianity in 2009.

Baru, when met at the Kuching Court Complex, told reporters that all the applications at the High Court are similar; the appellants filed an application for a judicial review for a declaration that they are Christians.

He said the judicial review was made to obtain confirmation on the jurisdiction of the Sarawak Syariah Court in not allowing a person to renounce Islam.

“Our argument is that the Syariah Court in Sarawak is not imbued with that power to decide on apostasy cases as the Sarawak Syariah Court Ordinance 2001 does not provide for this issue to be dealt with by the Syariah Court.

“Although the Syariah Court has the jurisdiction to allow a person to convert into becoming a Muslim, there isn’t any provision to leave Islam. There’s no specific provision on this (leaving Islam), thus, this is our argument,” he said.

The respondents are the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department director, the National Registration Department director-general, the Sarawak Islamic Council, and the Sarawak government.

(File pix) Federal Court decision tomorrow on four Sarawak apostasy cases