December 30, 2015

MALAYSIA: Muslim Conversion Issues Exclusively Islamic Sharia Court's Jurisdiction

The Star, Malaysia
written by Qishin Tariq
Wednesday December 30, 2015

PUTRAJAYA - In majority decision, the Court of Appeal has ruled that issues regarding Muslim conversion are exclusively the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

The panel was deciding on the Government's appeal against kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi, who had previously obtained a decision to quash the conversion certificates of her three children.

Justices Balia Yusof Wahi and Badariah Sahamid formed the majority decision that from a subject matter approach, whether a person was a Muslim or not was only to be decided by the Syariah Court.

"It is purely a matter of religion," said Justice Balia Yusof, who chaired the panel.

In his dissenting decision, Justice Hamid Sultan Abu Backer said the Administration of Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004, the law that allowed for the conversion, could be questioned by a civil court.

The panel set aside the Ipoh High Court's decision to quash the conversion, and made no order as to costs.

Justice Balia Yusof said the full written judgement would be made available on Jan 4, next year.

The children had been converted to Islam by Indira's ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, formerly known as K. Patmanathan.

On April 2009, Riduan had taken away Prasana Diksa, then 11 months old, and converted the child and two siblings - Tevi Darsiny, then 12, and Karan Dinish, then 11 - to Islam.

The two older children remained with their mother.

On Oct 29 the same year, Riduan obtained a Syariah Court order that awarded him custody of the children.

In a custody battle that ensued, the Ipoh High Court granted Indira full custody of all three children and on March 11, 2010, Riduan was ordered to return Prasana to Indira.

On July 25 2013, Indira won a four-year legal battle to quash the conversion certificates of her three children.

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