17 August 2018

Federal Court sets January 29 to deliver verdict on Indira Gandhi appeal

Federal Court sets January 29 to deliver verdict on Indira Gandhi appeal

KUALA LUMPUR - Federal Court has set January 29 to deliver its verdict on the appeal by kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi over the conversion of her three children to Islam by her Muslim convert ex-husband.

The apex court's five-man bench, comprising Court of Appeal president Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum, Zainun Ali, Abu Samah Nordin and Ramly Ali, had reserved judgment after hearing the appeal in November 2016.

Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan confirmed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had received a notice from the Federal Court registry today that the decision would be delivered on January 29 at 9am.

Indira's lawyer, M. Kulasegaran, also in a text message, confirmed having received a similar notice.

Indira, 42, is appealing against the appellate court’s 2-1 majority decision on December 30, 2015, to reinstate the conversion certificates of her three children, which had been nullified by the Ipoh High Court.

The appellate court had ruled that the civil high court did not have jurisdiction to decide on the validity of the children's conversion, which it said came under the exclusive jurisdiction of the shariah court.

The court allowed the appeal brought by the Perak Islamic Religious Department director, Perak government and registrar of converts, Education Ministry and Malaysian government to set aside the Ipoh High Court ruling that the conversion certificates of the three children were null and void.

The Federal Court, in its appeal proceeding, heard submissions on several issues, including whether only a single parent's consent was required to convert a minor to Islam.

Senior federal counsel Dr Arik Sanusi Yeop Johari had submitted that the Federal Court ruling in 2007, in the custody case of R. Subashini vs T. Saravanan, had held that a single parent could convert their children to Islam.

However, lawyer Fahri Azzat, for Indira, contended that both the father and mother must consent to a child's conversion to Islam before the Perak Islamic Religious Department could register the conversion.

The children, two girls and a boy now aged 20, 19 and 9, were converted to Islam by their father, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, 47, formerly known as K. Pathmanathan, in April 2009 without Indira's consent, following Riduan's conversion to Islam.

The children were then aged 12 and 11 years, and 11 months.


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