PENANG, 7Jan 2009: The Penang Syariah Appeals Court today fixed 16 March for the decision on the appeal by the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAIPP) in the Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah case.
The MAIPP had appealed to the court to reject the decision of the Penang Syariah High Court which declared that Siti Fatimah, 39, is no longer a Muslim in May last year.
The Syarie Chief Judge/Director of the Malaysian Syariah Judicial Department Datuk Ibrahim Lembut made the decision after listening to submissions by both the lawyers for the appellant, which is the MAIPP, and Siti Fatimah who is the respondent in the case.
Ibrahim, who headed the three-man bench, which also included Datuk Muhammad Asri Abdullah and Datuk Abu Bakar Ahmad, said the panel needed time to scrutinise the case as it was a complex one.
“This is a complex case and needs close scrutiny. We need to study the past cases and history including referring to syariah civil and criminal cases. After listening to submissions from both parties, the court adjourns hearing to 16 March for a decision,” he said.
The case is considered a landmark case and several other cases relating to the religious status of individuals which were being heard in the state were waiting for the outcome of the appeal.
In May last year, the presiding judge for the case, Othman Ibrahim declared that Siti Fatimah was no longer a Muslim and the court ordered the MAIPP to revoke her registration certificate that stated that she was a Muslim.
However, Ibrahim rejected Siti Fatimah’s application to the court to order the National Registration Department to remove the word ‘Islam’ in her identity card on grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to do so, and he advised Siti Fatimah to deal with the department personally on the matter. — Bernama