“What people like (Malaysian Gurdwaras Council president) Jagir Singh need to do is to start learning to respect decisions of the Syariah Court, even if it is not in one’s favour,” said Zulkifli in a press statement yesterday.
Zulkifli He was responding to comments by Jagir yesterday about the ability of the Syariah Court to fairly hear cases involving non-Muslims.
The Sikh leader was referring to the case of Mohan Singh, who died of a heart attack on 25 May. Mohan’s remains have not been released to his family, as he is believed to have converted to Islam in 1992.
“We are of the view that a syariah court is not in a position to determine Mohan’s religion as most witnesses who can vouch for his professing of religion are non-Muslims, whose evidence the Syariah Court has no jurisdiction to hear,” Jagir said.
“Without their evidence, there cannot be a just decision,” he was quoted as saying.
Zulkifli said the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council statement was “highly baseless, unfounded, and purely contemptuous.”
“It shows utter disrespect for a court of competent jurisdiction, duly established by the Federal Constitution, and recognised as such by the Federal Court,” Zulkifli said.
“Please learn to respect the Federal Constitution,” Zulkifli added.
Zulkifli explained that syariah courts were empowered to hear evidence from non-Muslim witnesses.
The Kulim-Bandar Baru Member of Parliament (MP) cited the case of the late Nyonya Tahir, where there was dispute as to whether the deceased had died a Muslim. The Syariah Court later decided that Nyonya Tahir had died as a Buddhist, and should be buried as one.
“The matter was brought to the Syariah High Court of Negeri Sembilan, where the Buddhist family testified and gave evidence,” Zulkifli explained.
According to Zulkifli, the Syariah Court is the best place to determine whether Mohan Singh had died a Muslim.
“Where else on earth can one determine that, except in the Syariah Court, where the judges are very well-versed with the law, and the issue at hand?” Zulkifli said.
The MP stressed that the late Mohan had every right to profess and practise Islam as a religion of his choice. “It is not a crime to become a Muslim,” Zulkifli said.