Only a Muslim can practise Islamic law: Malaysian court

Victoria Jayaseelee Martin holds a diploma in Syarie Law and Practice.

Updated: Mar 18, 2011, 13:07 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: A non-Muslim counsel cannot practise in a court dealing with Islamic jurisprudence in Malaysia, a high court in Kuala Lumpur ruled in a landmark case.

Victoria Jayaseelee Martin, a 49-year-old non-Muslim, lost in her bid to challenge the requirement that a "Syarie" (Islamic religious law) attorney must be a Muslim, The Star reported on Friday.

Victoria, who holds a diploma in Syarie Law and Practice (DSLP) conferred by the International Islamic University Malaysia, also failed to get an order to compel the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council to accept her application to be a "Syarie" lawyer.

High Court judge Justice Rohana Yusuf dismissed her application.

"The requirement (for a Syarie lawyer to be) of Muslim faith is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of legal representation," Rohana said in her judgment on Thursday.

The judge said Parliament has given the Islamic religious council powers to use its discretion to admit any person who had sufficient Syarie law knowledge.

Victoria`s lead counsel Ranjit Singh said his client would appeal against the court ruling as the case concerned constitutional rights.