January 21, 2016
The Persecution of Public Intellectual Kassim Ahmad continues
Putrajaya has filed an appeal to overturn Court of Appeal ruling that declared the arrest and detention of activist Dr Kassim Ahmad by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI)in 2013 were illegal.
The Attorney-General’s Chambers from the civil division this afternoon filed the leave application in the Federal Court registry. The Malaysian Insider understood that Putrajaya had framed two legal questions for the apex court to grant leave in order for the merit of the appeal to be heard.
Meanwhile, Kassim’s lawyer Rosli Dahlan confirmed a copy of the application had been faxed to his office. On December 21, a three-man bench led by Judge Vernon Ong Lam Kiat said Jawi had no jurisdiction over Kassim, a Kedah resident.
“We order that the arrest, detention and prosecution are null and void,” Ong said, allowing Kassim’s appeal against a High Court ruling.Soon after the verdict, the 83-year-old Kassim hoped that JAWI would drop charges against him.
On Monday, Putrajaya Shariah High Court said it would decide on February 22 whether Kassim should be freed of his charges of insulting Islam and disobeying religious authorities. Rosli submitted that his client should be freed or alternatively given a discharge not amounting to acquittal as there was no stay applied on the Court of Appeal ruling.
Kassim had challenged JAWI over his arrest in a state outside the authority’s jurisdiction, claiming that it had acted illegally, unconstitutionally and beyond its powers.
Besides JAWI, he also named Dat0′ Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the Minister in charge of Islamic affairs, and then-Federal Territory chief Shariah prosecutor, Ibrahim Deris and the Government.
As a speaker, he was said to have insulted Islam at a seminar that was officiated by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.Kassim has held critical views of some hadiths and also accused some ulama (religious scholars) in Malaysia of enforcing a “priesthood caste”.
Kassim was arrested on March 26, 2013 by JAWI enforcement officers who also searched his home in Kulim, Kedah.He was flown in an AirAsia commercial flight from Penang to Sepang, Selangor before charged in a lower Shariah Court in Putrajaya.
In filing a judicial review against JAWI, Dr. Kassim sought an order to strike out the chief prosecutor’s decision on March 27, 2013 to prosecute him for allegedly insulting Islam and going against religious authorities.