Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Indira still battles ex-husband to see daughter despite winning ruling on child conversions

Indira still battles ex-husband to see daughter despite winning ruling on child conversions

August 14, 2013
Malaysian Insider
Latest Update: August 14, 2013 12:45 pm
Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi might have won a landmark judgment to quash the conversion of her three children to Islam but she now has to initiate contempt proceedings against her former husband to see her youngest daughter.

The daughter, Prasana Diksa, has been with Muhammad Riduan Abdullah since 2009 when the toddler was 11 months old and he has refused to hand back the child.

Indira's lawyer M.Kula Segaran (pic) said his client had instructed him to file the papers as soon as possible.

"This will be done on an urgent basis due to new developments," he told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur.

The latest development is Muhammad Riduan's lawyers filing a notice of appeal to set aside the ruling of Judicial Commissioner Lee Swee Seng who last month had quashed the conversions which were made without Indira's  knowledge.

In March 2010, another High Court had granted custody of the children to Indira.

Two of her children, Tevi Darsiny, 16, and Karan Dinish, 15, are with her.

Lawyer K. Shanmuga, who is also appearing for Indira, said the contempt proceeding was necessary as the husband failed to obey the custody order.

"Indira now wants to enforce the order to get her daughter back. If the ex-husband fails, we want him to be kept in prison until he hands over the child," he told The Malaysian Insider.

Shanmuga said the ex-husband was prima facie (at first sight) in contempt and he would have to come to court to offer an explanation why he had held on to the child despite custody given to the mother.

Indira had also lodged several police reports in the hope the authorities would help reunite her with her daughter but to no avail.

She had said that she was yearning to be reunited with Prasana Diksa.

Indira said it has been more than four years since she was separated from her child and was now doubtful whether the daughter could recognise her.

Lee in his judgment  had said the conversion was unconstitutional because it was done without hearing the mother or the children.

He also said the conversion was unlawful as the Perak Syariah law states that children must be present to utter the affirmation of faith.

Lee had also ruled that the conversion was against the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Indira married Muhammad Riduan, then known as K. Patmanathan, 20 years ago, according to Hindu rites.

On March 11, 2009, he converted to Islam.

The following month, he converted their three children to Islam without the knowledge of his wife.

That same month, the Syariah Court granted him custody of his three children.

The couple separated and the husband took the youngest child with him.

Last week the director of the Islamic Religious Department, Registrar of Converts and the Perak government had filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal to challenge Lee's ruling.

Indira had also named Muhammad Riduan and the federal government as defendants in her suit.

However, Muhammad Riduan may have a problem appearing before the Court of Appeal because he is also in contempt of court for not returning Prasana Diksa to the mother.

A Federal Court had held that persons in contempt of court would not be heard unless the contempt was purged. -- August 14, 2013.

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