Kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi has filed an application to recuse two Federal Court judges, Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria and Court of Appeal president Md Raus Sharif, from hearing the case on the unilateral conversion of her children by her Muslim-convert husband.
Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, the lawyer who is acting for Indira, said this was due to both of them being involved in past cases pertaining to unilateral conversions.
“We have also asked for a panel of judges who are multiracial, multireligious as per the population of the country, and finally it should be multigender based. We have also asked other apex court judges not to hear the case,” said Kulasegaran.
However, during the case management today, Federal Court judge Justice Zahara Ibrahim said parties must take into consideration on the number of judges in the apex court.
She also opined that she herself may be disqualified from hearing the leave application as she had presided over Indira's case against inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar where the decision is pending.
Justice Zahara indicated to parties that she will discuss this issue with Justice Arifin (photo) and a decision will be made.
In the meantime, Kulasegaran who appeared with lawyer Aston Paiva said that they will write to the Registrar of the Federal Court listing out the reasons why the present judges at the apex court should not hear this appeal.
It was reported last month that eight questions of law will be posed before the apex court when Indira's lawyers filed the application for leave to appeal.
Although the questions were not heard in court, it is speculated that this may include Malaysia's position in international convention like the United Nations convention on the rights of a child where the country is a signatory, question on jurisdiction between the civil and syariah court and whether children born out of a marriage from civil law must comply with the Administration of the Religion of Islam enactment of the respective states.
Asked how the respondents felt about the questions during the case management, Kulasegaran said they wanted it watered down.
Meanwhile, the Federal Court has fixed May 19 on whether to permit Indira's appeal over the conversion be heard on its merits.
In other words, the apex court has fixed the date to hear Indira's leave application.
Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan told reporters of this date after attending the matter which came up for case management today.
The Court of Appeal had previously made the decision that the civil court has no jurisdiction to determine the issue of conversion as it is in the realm of the syariah court.
Prior to that, the Ipoh High Court had declared the conversion of the two children to be null and void.