Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Civil courts can't rule on conversion cases, declares Appellate Court



Zikri Kamarulzaman 30 Dec 2015, AM 10:33


The Court of Appeal has overturned on a technicality a High Court decision quashing the unilateral conversion of three children by their now Muslim father.


The three-man bench headed by Justice Balia Yusof Wahi ruled in a majority decision that the Ipoh High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the conversion of kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi's children by her ex-husband.



"The majority view this court is taking (is that) ... it is beyond a shadow of a doubt, whether or not a person is Muslim, (the case) falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the syariah court.


"The validity of the conversion is also the exclusive jurisdiction of the syariah court," Justice Balia said in his judgment.


However, the court did not make a ruling on the eldest child's conversion as she is now 18 years old.


In 2009, K Pathmanathan @ Muhammad Ridhuan Abdullah had converted the three children - two daughters and a son - when they were 12, 11 years old and 11 months respectively, without their mother's presence and three other conditions as required under Section 96 of the Administration of Islam Perak, Enactment 2004.


Besides Justice Balia, the other judge who ruled in favour of the prosecution was Justice Badariah Sahamid.


Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Bacher was the dissenting judge.


Conversion matter void from the start


In his dissenting judgment, Justice Hamid said the matter of conversion was void from the start as under Perak state law, the children had to apply to convert themselves with the parents' consent.


"In this particular case it is the father who made the application; there is no provision for that," he said.


Justice Hamid (photo) also found the matter to be purely administrative, and therefore not under the syariah court's jurisdiction.


Indira, 40, was emotional when met by reporters outside the courtroom, and briefly broke down in tears as her lawyers spoke to the press.


"When is this going to stop [...] It has been seven years, I can't get justice in my own Malaysia.


"I have no clue after this what is going to happen to my children. When am I going to see my daughter?" she said, her voice quivering with emotion.


She then reacted angrily when asked if she would bring the matter to the syariah court.


"Why should I go to the syariah court? I am not a Muslim and my children are not Muslims," she snapped.


Her lawyer, Ipoh Barat MP M Kula Segaran, said he will file an appeal for the case to be brought to the Federal Court, after receiving instructions from Indira.


Indira's ex-husband, 46-year-old Ridhuan, and their children were not present in court.

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