Friday, March 15, 2013

Shahnaz files for revision of Syariah Court order

by Hafiz Yatim

Shahnaz A Majid, ex-wife of Sarawak chief minister's son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, has filed an application for a revision of the Syariah Court of Appeal order for a retrial of the RM100 million ‘mutaah' (gift) hearing in the couple's divorce case.

She cited procedural unfairness on the part of the appellate court in reaching its decision and said she and her lawyers were not informed about the matter.

Shahnaz, 49, in her application for revision dated Feb 20, is seeking an  inter-parte hearing, where both sides are allowed to be present before the Syariah Court of Appeal.

In addition, Shahnaz, a housewife, is also seeking a new order from the Syariah Court of Appeal to replace or suspend the existing order dated Nov 14 last year.

She also sought suspension of her ‘mutaah' proceeding, which is to be heard before another judge following the appellate court decision.

In providing grounds for her application, Shahnaz claimed the Nov 14 order was improper as it was done ex-parte, without giving an opportunity for her to reply, and that she was not informed of the revision application until an order was served on her at the Federal Territory Syariah Court registry on Feb 8, almost three months later. the decision.

"There were no supporting letters to the revision order. Furthermore, my lawyers were not handed a sealed copy of my former husband's application and his affidavit in support," she states in her application.

The housewife alleged that as a result, it had prejudiced her as the Syariah Court of Appeal only considered Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib's submission in arriving at their decision and this constitutes procedural unfairness.

Hence, she claimed there was an immediate need for the Syariah Court of Appeal to intervene and issue a new order to ensure justice, the welfare of the litigants and that the rights of both parties are taken into consideration.
'Order unfair'

Yesterday, Malaysiakini reported that the Syariah Court of Appeal allowed Mahmud Abu Bekir's application for a re-trial of the ‘mutaah' proceeding before a new judge.

It was also reported that besides the court's order for a retrial, which was unanimously made, the Syariah Court of Appeal also ordered that the oral testimony must adhere to proper procedures, including in the preparation and marking of all documents. Previously, Mahmud Abu Bekir's bank account documents had been tendered.

Shahnaz believes the present order is unfair to her as a litigant as the ‘mutaah' proceeding was still being heard.

"If there is any deficiency in the present proceeding, it can be brought up on appeal at the conclusion of the matter to ensure that it would not waste the court's time.

"I am a non-working housewife and have been supporting my family including that of my 20-year-old son, who is still studying. Since the divorce on May 11, 2011 my former husband had purposely or failed to provide support, and support our son and ‘mutaah' claim," she said in her application.

She says a re-trial, if allowed, would result in her incurring additional legal costs, and this would waste the court's time as the court would have to review the same facts and documents again.

Shahnaz, who is the elder sister of jazz queen Sheila Majid, claimed the Syariah Court of Appeal has the jurisdiction to review its own decision if there is a gross injustice.

'Court wrong in its decision'

In her supporting affidavit to the application, Shahnaz said that she had been advised by her lawyers that her former husband's application was filed improperly.

"I believe the Syariah Court of Appeal was wrong in its decision in allowing my former husband's revision as it is clearly against the universal principles of justice as also practised in Islam and that the order had prejudiced my rights.

"I have been advised by my syarie lawyers that the Syariah Court of Appeal had misinterpreted the doctrine of revision where judges should scrutinise all the facts which are presented by both parties before making a decision or in meting out punishment or order."

She said the revision of the order has to be heard for the court to deliver a just decision after hearing both parties, where the housewife claimed her rights as a litigant had been violated without being given a copy of the application or be informed of the dates of its hearing beforehand.

Shahnaz is seeking a RM100 million ‘mutaah' claim and another RM300 million joint matrimonial assets claim.

The trial went on from Sept 24 until Dec 24, where various testimonies of Mahmud Abu Bekir's assets and accounts, allegedly amounting to billions of ringgit, had been disclosed.

Last month, Shahnaz has obtained an interim order requiring her ex-husband to pay maintenance fees of RM902,000 from the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court.

The money is for the couple's son, covering expenses such as board, lodging and food over the period of his pre-university studies in the United Kingdom since the couple's divorce two years ago.

It is learnt that Shahnaz's application for revision will be heard on April 22 at the Syariah Court of Appeal.

~ Malaysiakini

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