Friday, July 26, 2013

Kula urges AG not to appeal child conversion decision

Kula urges AG not to appeal child conversion decision
A lawyer acting for M Indira Gandhi has urged the attorney-general not to appeal against yesterday’s landmark decision which saw the court declare her children’s conversion as unconstitutional.

Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, who is one of the lawyers for the mother, said the non-filing of the appeal should be done in the interests of justice for the mother and her three children.

NONEKulasegaran (right) said when Indira Gandhi tried to bring questions of law to the Federal Court regarding her predicament, representatives of the AG’s Chambers objected, saying the matter should be ventilated at the High Court.

“Since the matter has already been decided yesterday by the Ipoh High Court, then the AG should not appeal the decision in the interests of justice. Indira Gandhi has suffered for so long.”

“Should the husband want to file an appeal, the AG should also support us in objecting to the appeal,” he told Malaysiakini when contacted today.

Indira Gandhi had named the state registrar of conversions, the Perak Religious Department director, the state and federal governments, the Education Ministry and her husband K Patmanathan (now known as Mohd Riduan Abdullah) as respondents.

The lawmaker said in April 2009, the government has agreed to resolve such issues by coming up with a cabinet directive where then de facto Law minister Nazri Abdul Aziz had said children of estranged couples should remain in the religion of their parents at the time of their marriage.

Hence, he said what happened since the cabinet directive should be followed as the case had come up in 2009.

Yesterday, Judge Lee Swee Seng ruled that the minors’ conversion was null and void as the recitation of the dua kalimah syahadah (pronouncement to embrace Islam) was not performed on them and that the issuance of certificates of conversion by the Perak religious authorities was unconstitutional.
‘Authorities not helping in detecting child’

Kulasegaran said what is unfortunate in the case is that the five-year-old daughter had been taken away by the father when she was a toddler.

The Ipoh High Court had ordered the converted husband, K Pathmanathan @ Mohd Ridhuan Abdullah, sometime in March 2010 to return Prasana Diksa, five, to the mother.

The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal two years later, but the child has still not been returned to the mother’s custody although the father has been given visitation rights by the courts.

The Ipoh Barat MP claimed that since the court ruling, the authorities had not done anything to locate or return the child.

“This is despite the police report lodged against the father and the court order having been made. We do not know his whereabouts and the authorities are not helping much in locating him or the child,” he said.

“This had resulted in the mother suffering in anguish at not seeing her daughter,” he said.

Normally in civil cases, an appeal can be made within 21 days of the judgment.

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