There is a general feeling of despondency over the gradual erosion of non-Muslims rights as provided for in the Federal Constitution. The State Legislative List in the 9th schedule of the Federal Constitution provides specific provisions that the "syariah courts ... shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam" and yet despite this legal provision cast solidly in stone, two High Court judges deemed it fit by a majority decision to dismiss Subashini's appeal.
The majority decision went on further to declare quite wrongly and in direct contravention of the Federal Constitution that Subashini's recourse albeit a non-Muslim was at the Syariah Court and not at the High Court.
How two learned judges could circumvent the Fedaral Constitution and arrived at such an erroneous decision is certainly mind boggling. There are two possibilities why a straight forward case ended in such an acrimonious fashion.
Firstly, the two judges were so illiterate in their knowledge of the provision of the Federal Constitution that they overlooked the relevant provisions embodied in the constitution. This is quite unlikely as the provision in the constitution is so elegantly crafted without any ambiguity that a chambering law student would not even overlook it.
The second more plausible possibility is that unseen hands already decided on the fate of Subashini's case even before her appeal was to be heard by the High Court. Earlier, all three attempts to divert the case of S Sharmala, M Moorty and A Rayappan to the Syariah Court ended in failure.
For some in the syariah and civil courts, there is a fervent desire to prove to the world that justice for the non-Muslims can also be obtained at the Syariah Court. In order to prove this, a non-Muslim must first be made to submit to the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court. Failure to bring a non-Muslim to the Syariah Court would tantamount to failure to reveal to the world how Islamic jurisprudence would deal with a non-Muslim and receive justice.
In short, there is an attempt by some authorities to compel a non-Muslim to submit to the Syariah Court so that it will have an opportunity to vindicate its propaganda that Islamic law is impartial to all and sundry.
There is no doubt in my mind that Subashini will win her case in the Syariah Court and that this case will be made a shining example for future cases to be brought to the Syariah Court for adjudication.
However, before we rush into this unprecedented decision to seek justice in the Syariah Court, bear in mind the consequences. At what cost, because this will inevitably open the floodgates for all future such cases to be brought to the Syariah Court and the consequences can be disastrous.