KUALA LUMPUR: The Magistrate’s Court has set June 14 for the decision on the application by ‘Mentega Terbang’ film director and producer to refer the constitutional question regarding Section 298 of the Penal Code, involving charges of hurting the religious feelings of others, to the High Court.

Magistrate Noorelynna Hanim Abd Halim set the date after hearing arguments from lawyer N. Surendran, appearing for Mohd Khairianwar Jailani, 32, and Tan Meng Kheng, 36, and Deputy Public Prosecutor Abdul Malik Ayob, today.

On Jan 17, Mohd Khairianwar and Tan pleaded not guilty in two separate Magistrate’s Courts to a charge of intentionally hurting the religious sensitivities of others through their movie ‘Mentega Terbang’ last year at premises in Jalan Semarak Api, Kuala Lumpur, at 12.34 pm on Feb 26 last year.

Mohd Khairianwar, who is also the scriptwriter and Tan were charged under Section 298 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum sentence of one-year imprisonment or a fine or both upon conviction.

Earlier, Surendran argued that the offence element is unconstitutional because it contradicts Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

“The act of hurting the religious feelings of others, which is a crucial element under Section 298, is not provided under the ‘public order’ restriction contained in Article 10(2)(a).

“If the Section is declared unconstitutional, the charges against my clients would be nullified, and there would be no case against them,” said the lawyer who submitted the application under Section 30 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

Meanwhile, Abdul Malik requested the court reject the application, arguing that the constitutional question is not a complex issue.

He said it need not be referred to the High Court and could be decided at the end of the trial.

“The question was raised based on assumptions and aimed at delaying the trial. Witnesses have not yet been called to provide their testimonies,” he added.

The Home Ministry, through the Government Gazette P.U (A) 2662 Film Censorship Act 2002, the Film Censorship (Prohibition) Order 2023 dated Aug 21, 2023, signed by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, banned the screening and publicity of “Mentega Terbang”.

The film, broadcast on a video streaming platform, has faced public backlash and anger due to purportedly depicting scenes involving conflicting religious beliefs and elements.