KUALA LUMPUR: The establishment of the Syariah and Harmonisation of Law Division by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) must include views from various quarters to ensure the effectiveness of its implementation.
Syariah Lawyers Association of Malaysia president, Musa Awang said the association backed the move in full, as it could overcome conflict of jurisdiction between the Civil and Syariah Courts.
He said the establishment of the division was important and that it should have been undertaken a long time ago.
"The implementation of the division should also involve the views of various parties, especially when it comes to issues and matters relating to religion.
"In order to ensure its effectiveness, Musa said the AGC should seek involvement and views from mufti’s, non-governmental organisations and Islamic institutions as well as lawyers' associations," he said.
Coalition of Malaysian Lawyers founder Lukman Sheriff Alias welcomed the establishment of the division, saying the move would have a positive impact in the resolution of conflict involving religious issues.
"It should have been established in the past. Conflicts involving the Syariah and Civil Courts should have a platform (to be resolved)," he said.
The AGC in a statement on Friday said based on Clause (2), Article 145 of the Federal Constitution, the Attorney-General has the duty to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Cabinet or any minister on any matter of law.
In this regard, it said the establishment of the Syariah and Harmonisation of Law Division was to address issues related to the Syariah legislations which would arise at Federal and international levels.
The AGC said the formation of the division is important because it will be the focal point for any syariah-related issues that is referred to the AGC.
It adds that among others it will look into legal advice, formulation and coordination of Syariah laws, the ratification of international convention which has an impact on Syariah related matters and the harmonisation between civil law and syariah law to overcome conflict of jurisdiction between the two legal jurisdictions.
The move is also aimed to ensure more effective delivery of the AGC services on syariah-related issues based on current demands, the AGC said.
On Jan 29, the Federal Court ruled that the unilateral conversion of Hindu mother M. Indira Ghandi's three children by her Muslim convert ex-husband was null and void.
A five-man panel, chaired by Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, unanimously made the decision after allowing Indira's final appeal to challenge the validity of her children's conversion to Islam.
In a summary of a 99-page judgement read out by Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zainun Ali, the court ruled that the consent of both parents is needed to convert a minor. Other judges in the panel were Sabah and Sarawak Chief Judge Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Federal Court Judges Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Tan Sri Ramly Ali.
Following the decision, Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria had proposed that the state government make amendments to insert the establishment of the Syariah Court in the state constitution.
“The amendment could elevate the Syariah Court to be on par with the Civil Court. The Syariah Court should also not be regarded as an entity being outside the institution of the judiciary, thus placing it in a lower position,” he had said in a statement in Ipoh.