Court gives Muslim convert one week to hand over daughter to ex-wife
A Muslim convert who has been found guilty for contempt by an Ipoh High Court has been given until next Friday to hand over his infant daughter to his his estranged ex-wife, M. Indira Gandhi, or face imprisonment.
Judge Lee Swee Seng ordered Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah to return Prasana Diksa to kindergarten teacher Indira by the deadline or face the consequences.
"Failing which he will be jailed until he purges his contempt," Lee said in directing Ridzuan to hand over Prasana Diksa to the legal firm of Kula & Associates by noon next Friday.
Lee also ordered the police to help locate Ridzuan and Prasana Diksa whose whereabouts are unknown.
The judge also ordered Ridzuan, who was not in court, to pay RM5,000 in cost to Indira.
This is the second time in 10 days that the civil court had given relief to mothers who had been suffering in silence when their ex-husbands defied custody orders.
On May 21, a High Court in Seremban granted a similar order to S. Deepa but police had yet to locate her son despite a sealed copy of the document given to Bukit Aman last Friday.
Last year, Indira had filed contempt proceedings against Ridzuan, who was previously known as K.Patmanathan, for his refusal to hand over their daughter.
In 2010, High Court judge Datuk Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim ordered custody of the three children – Tevi Darsiny, 16, Karan Dinish, 15, and Prasana Diksa, 3, to be given to Indira.
However, Ridzuan refused to return Prasana Diksa (now known as Ummu Habibah) to Indira.
He has been holding on to Prasana Diksa since April 2009 when she was 11 months old.
The Shariah High Court in Ipoh had in 2009 given Ridzuan custody of the three children after he unilaterally converted the children.
Last July 25, Lee, in a landmark decision, quashed the certificates of conversion of the three children and ruled that the certificates were null and void because they were unconstitutional.
Under the Perak state enactment, it was a statutory requirement for a child to be present before a certificate of conversion could be issued.
He also cited provisions under the Perak Shariah law where the children must be present to utter the affirmation of faith (Dua Kalimah Syahadah).
Lee today also declared as null and void the custody order issued by the Shariah High Court.
He said it was the High Court that has supervisory power over Shariah courts which only had limited jurisdiction.
"The religious court is an inferior court and its powers and jurisdiction are limited by state enactments," he said.
Lee said the Shariah court had no jurisdiction to grant custody order as the other party (Indira) was not a Muslim.
"The Shariah court is inherently incompetent to deal with the custody order. A child is a product of the marriage of husband and wife, so no custody order can be given by a court of law when the wife is not heard," he said.
Lee said Ridzuan could not depend on a Shariah High Court order as an excuse to not comply with the High Court order.
He said he had jurisdiction to hear the matter (the contempt proceedings) as to decline it would mean that he was was abdicating his duty.
"The Shariah High court's ruling is null and void and cannot be relied upon as a shield to the contempt proceedings brought in the civil court," he said.
Lawyer Aston Paiva also represented Indira Gandhi while New Sin Yew appeared for the Bar Council. – May 30, 2014.