‘Indira judgment welcomed, but authorities must follow through’

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A human rights NGO today hailed a landmark ruling which set aside the unilateral conversion of three children to Islam, expressing hope however that the authorities would follow through.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said the Federal Court’s ruling in M Indira Gandhi’s case was long overdue.

He said he was happy that the matter had been resolved “in the favour of justice”, adding that the ruling shows that Muslims and non-Muslims are equal under the law.

“But failure of authorities to follow through on the decision will impact the confidence in court judgments.

“It could lead to a collapse of the system which could see people taking matters into their own hands,” he told FMT.

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Other cases of unilateral child conversion

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 ― While M. Indira Gandhi won her case at the Federal Court against the conversion of her three children to Islam without her consent, a few other women were not so fortunate.

The apex court’s decision to nullify the unilateral conversion of Indira’s children ― which was done by her Muslim convert ex-husband who also abducted their youngest child nine years ago at the age of 11 months ― was the opposite of a previous verdict in another case of unilateral child conversion ― R. Subashini’s case.

The Federal Court yesterday ruled that according to the Federal Constitution, the consent of both parents is needed to convert a minor, while another apex court panel in Subashini’s case had interpreted the Constitution to only require the permission of one parent.

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We are Hindu, Indira’s children declare confidently after Muslim conversion quashed

Source: Malay Mail Online

(From left) Karan Dinish, Tevi Darsiny and their mother M. Indira Gandhi are seen here in a photo taken during Deepavali 2017. ― Picture courtesy of M. Indira Gandhi
via Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 ― M. Indira Gandhi’s two elder children can now proudly declare their Hindu identity, after the Federal Court yesterday nullified their conversion to Islam that was done without their Hindu mother’s consent.

Tevi Darsiny, the eldest child now aged 20, said she felt “overwhelmed” when
she heard about the Federal Court ruling voiding her conversion by her Muslim convert father, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.

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STATEMENT: HAKAM welcomes Federal Court’s rejection of Unilateral Religious Conversion of Minors

STATEMENT DATED 29 Jan 2018

HAKAM WELCOMES FEDERAL COURT’S REJECTION
OF UNILATERAL RELIGIOUS CONVERSION OF MINORS

HAKAM welcomes the Federal Court judgment handed down today in the Indira Gandhi case which has finally provided clarity in relation to issues that have plagued the nation for years.

The well articulated and courageous, unanimous judgment of the Federal Court delivered by YA Tan Sri Datuk Zainun Ali FCJ has resolved the vexed issues surrounding numerous cases of unilateral conversion where the non-converting spouse has been left without remedy in the civil courts.  This was a situation that screamed for a solution either in the Parliament or in the courts.  Yet both abdicated, until now.

The Federal Court has now determined that Article 121(1A) cannot prevent the civil courts from exercising its jurisdiction in determining matters under federal law, notwithstanding the conversion of a party to Islam.  It further held that the powers of judicial review of the civil courts are key in performing their constitutional role in supervising the administrative actions of all statutory bodies.  Hence the civil courts have the jurisdiction to examine the validity of the certificates of conversion in relation to Indira Gandhi’s children.

Upon examining the process, the Federal Court found it flawed and set aside the certificates of conversion.

The Federal Court also settled the crucial question of whether such a conversion requires the consent of both parents i.e. whether the unilateral conversion of the religion of a child is permissible under the Federal Constitution.  The court held that the consent of both parents is required.

The Judgment upholds the rule of law and protects the basic structure of the Federal Constitution.  It gives meaning to the protection afforded to all Malaysians under the Federal Constitution.

It also puts the well recognised principle that the welfare of the child is paramount, at the forefront of the decision making process in such cases.  Unfortunately for years, the welfare of the children has been relegated to the back seat.

The practical effect of the decision is that it brings to a close the unnecessary suffering of so many children and spouses whose families have been torn apart by the actions of one spouse to the marriage. No longer can one spouse use religion as a means of punishing the other.

The outcome is a just results; both for the spouses and most of all for the children.  In family law cases, it is the duty of the court to ensure the least anxiety to the affected children and spouses.  This Federal Court Judgment has succeeded in restoring good sense and balance into the determining of such disputes.

 

Issued on behalf of the HAKAM Executive Committee

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan
President
HAKAM

 

 

STATEMENT: HAKAM welcomes Federal Court’s rejection of Unilateral Religious Conversion of Minors

STATEMENT DATED 29 Jan 2018pdf

HAKAM WELCOMES FEDERAL COURT’S REJECTION
OF UNILATERAL RELIGIOUS CONVERSION OF MINORS

M. Indira Gandhi (left) smiles with her mother after the Federal Court annulled the unilateral religious conversion of her three children in Putrajaya January 29, 2018. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

HAKAM welcomes the Federal Court judgment handed down today in the Indira Gandhi case which has finally provided clarity in relation to issues that have plagued the nation for years.

The well articulated and courageous, unanimous judgment of the Federal Court delivered by YA Tan Sri Datuk Zainun Ali FCJ has resolved the vexed issues surrounding numerous cases of unilateral conversion where the non-converting spouse has been left without remedy in the civil courts.  This was a situation that screamed for a solution either in the Parliament or in the courts.  Yet both abdicated, until now.

The Federal Court has now determined that Article 121(1A) cannot prevent the civil courts from exercising its jurisdiction in determining matters under federal law, notwithstanding the conversion of a party to Islam.  It further held that the powers of judicial review of the civil courts are key in performing their constitutional role in supervising the administrative actions of all statutory bodies.  Hence the civil courts have the jurisdiction to examine the validity of the certificates of conversion in relation to Indira Gandhi’s children.

Upon examining the process, the Federal Court found it flawed and set aside the certificates of conversion. Read more

Federal Court judgment on Indira Gandhi case

Source: The Malaysian Insight

Background facts

The appellant, Indira Gandhi Mutho and the respondent in appeal no. 19, Patmanathan Krishnan were married on April 10, 1993.

The marriage was registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (‘the LRA’). There were three children of the marriage, Tevi Darsiny, aged 12, Karan Dinish, aged 11 and the youngest, Prasana Diksa, who was 11 months old (at the time of filing of the appellant’s application for judicial review dated 9 June 2009).

On March 11, 2009, the 6th respondent converted to Islam. At the time of the 6th respondent’s conversion, the two elder children were residing with the appellant while the youngest child was with the 6th Respondent.

Sometime in April 2009, the appellant received documents from the 6th respondent showing that her three children had been converted to Islam on April 2, 2009 and that the Pengarah Jabatan Agama Islam Perak had issued three certificates of conversion to Islam on her three children.

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Indira arrives at court for decision on unilateral conversion case

Source: The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi has arrived at the Federal Court here Monday for the decision on her appeal against the case regarding unilateral conversion of her three children to Islam by her former husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.

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Indira Gandhi to sue IGP for ignoring Federal Court order to arrest Muslim ex-husband

Source: Malay Mail Online

Indira Gandhi has been waiting for a judgement from the apex court for almost a year now, ever since it concluded hearing of her case in November 2016. Pic by The Malay Mail Online

PETALING JAYA, Nov 21 — Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi will be initiating a civil suit against the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for failing to comply with a mandamus order issued by the Federal Court to arrest her Muslim convert ex-husband who has refused to hand custody of the couple’s youngest child back to her.

Her lawyer M. Kulasegaran said that he will be filing the suit against the IGP’s office after the Federal Court delivers its judgement on Indira’s application to declare her children’s unilateral conversion to Islam by her ex-husband null and void.

Indira has been waiting for a judgement from the apex court for almost a year now, ever since it concluded hearing of her case in November 2016.

Former IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar previously claimed there were contradicting orders from the Shariah Court and the civil courts as reason for his refusal to carry out the mandamus order to arrest Muhammad Riduan Abdullah issued by the High Court in Ipoh and subsequently upheld by the Federal Court last year.

But Kulasegaran insisted the IGP “lied” about there being two orders. Read more

Changes in laws is lasting solution to unilateral conversion, say lawyers

Source: FMT News 

PETALING JAYA: Kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi and spouses in similar predicament will have to wait for a Federal Court ruling whether a parent can unilaterally convert their children, family law practitioners said.

They, however, said it was still desirable in the long term for parliament to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act (LRA) to stop such conversion when a spouse becomes a Muslim.

The lawyers said an apex court ruling could be departed from by another bench later and the conversion issue would recur.

Lawyer Balwant Singh Sidhu said if the Federal Court in Indira’s appeal correctly decided the interpretation of Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, then an amendment to section 88 might not be necessary.

Indira’s lawyer have argued that the consent of both parents are needed when a spouse converts the children of a civil marriage to Islam. Read more

Amend constitution clause on ‘parent’ to fix interfaith custody tussle, Putrajaya urged

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail –File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) called on the federal government to commit itself to recognise the right of both parents amid a continuing controversy over interfaith child custody conflicts in the country.

Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail expressed the commission’s regret over the withdrawal of a key clause in the government’s amendment of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act that he said would have been the ideal solution to ban the unilateral conversion of children.

“Suhakam calls on the Government to commit firmly to this issue and to recognise the importance of both parents to have equal parental rights and authority in relation to the religion, custody and upbringing of their children, considering the principle of the best interest of the child.

“Suhakam believes that the remedy lies in an amendment to Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution,” Razali said in a statement. Read more