The Cabinet has assigned three ministers to look into the implications of the Court of Appeal judgment on the conversion of kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi’s children, minister Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau was quoted as saying in The Star.
Issues concerning the judgment, which held that unilateral conversions to Islam of minors had to be decided by the shariah court, were discussed at the recent Cabinet meeting, the science, technology and innovation minister said.
“The Cabinet has made certain decisions and it involves two or three ministers looking into it,” he said but declined to elaborate, The Star’s report said.
Tangau said the Cabinet recognised that the case had “wide implications” and while the ministries were not questioning the court’s judgment, it must be based on points of law.
“We don’t wish to question the decision of the judges but judgment must be based on the points of law and must not be due to other considerations,” Tangau was reported telling the media in Penampang, Sabah.
Meanwhile the New Straits Times today quoted Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said as saying that the three ministers who were assigned to look into the conversion case were Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.
The paper also quoted a source as saying that the three ministers had met with Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali on Thursday to discuss the case.
Azalina said in her opinion, it was not right for children to be made victims.
“Everyone has been affected by this case and I, as a former shariah lawyer, feel strongly about it.
“It is not right for the children to be victimised,” Azalina was reported as saying in the report.
Indira’s three children, who were converted without her knowledge by her ex-husband, had their conversion certificates quashed by the Ipoh High Court in July 2013.
The then High Court judge Lee Swee Seng cited provisions under Perak shariah law where the children must be present to utter the affirmation of faith or the “syahadah”.
On December 30, the Court of Appeal led by Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi in a majority ruling held that the validity of conversion of Indira’s three children by their Muslim father could only be determined by the shariah court.
Setting aside the Ipoh High Court’s ruling, it said the civil court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the conversion.
The lone dissenting judge on the three-man bench, Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, however, said the children’s conversion was purely administrative and the civil court could inquire into it.
He had also said there was abuse in the process of the children’s conversion, including the fact that the minors did not decide the “syahadah”.
The two elder children Tevi Darsiny and Karan Dinish are currently in Indira’s custody while the youngest, Prasana Diksa, is being held by her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah despite a High Court ruling in 2011 awarding custody to the mother. – January 9, 2016.
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- Ministers to look into court’s decision on Muslim conversion [10 Jan 2016]
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- Protect the fundamental rights of parents and the best interest of the child — SUARAM [4 Jan 2016]
- Indira Gandhi must fight to the end on minors’ unilateral conversion, say lawyers [4 Jan 2016]
- Putrajaya must end unilateral conversion of minors, says lawyers’ group [3 Jan 2016]
- How will non-Muslims get justice if they can’t be in the Shariah Court? Interfaith panel asks [30 Dec 2015]
- Sad day for religious minorities, interfaith council rep says after conversion ruling [30 Dec 2015]
- Civil courts have no jurisdiction over conversions, defer to Shariah Court [30 Dec 2015]