Thursday, January 28, 2016

Indira Gandhi 'unilateral conversion' case goes to apex court

Lawyers representing kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi filed an application for leave to appeal to the Federal Court today over the issue of unilateral conversion of underage children.

Her lawyer M Kulasegaran confirmed the filing of the application.

"Eight questions of law are being posed to the highest court in the country," he said.

However, he would not divulge the questions.

Leave or permission has to be gained at the Federal Court before a full appeal is heard.

It was reported on Dec 30 that the Court of Appeal ruled that the civil courts have no jurisdiction to rule on Islamic conversion cases as such jurisdiction lies with the syariah courts.

The appellate court in a majority 2-1 decision ruled that determining the validity of the conversion was the exclusive jurisdiction of the syariah courts.

This was despite the Ipoh High Court ruling as null and void the conversion of Indira Gandhi's three children by their convert father K Pathmanathan @ Mohd Ridhuan Abdullah.

'No provision'

In 2009, K Pathmanathan @ Ridhuan had converted the three children - two daughters and a son - when they were 12, 11 years old and 11 months respectively.

The dissenting judge in the Court of Appeal judgment, Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, ruled that the conversion was void from the start under the Perak state law as the children did not apply to convert themselves with their parents' consent.

"In this particular case, it is the father who made the application; there is no provision for that," Hamid Sultan had ruled.

The Court of Appeal decision caused ripples across civil society, attracting criticisms from various quarters including from former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim.

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