NRD, government seek to challenge landmark ruling on ‘out-of-wedlock children’ case


Source: The Malay Mail Online 

KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 — The National Registration Department (NRD) and government have filed for a leave application against the appellate court’s decision to allow a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock to bear the father’s name.

Lawyer Nizam Bashir, who represented the seven-year-old and his parents, told news portal Malaysiakini that the government and the NRD had filed the application for leave.

“That is where the case stands now. Let us see how it goes,” Nizam was quoted as saying.Earlier when delivering his verdict, Justice Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli was reported saying that the NRD director-general is a civil officer and that he is bound under civil law, meaning the NRD should have referred to Section 13A (2) of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (BDRA) for any decisions relating to a child’s surname.

The ruling, made unanimously by the three men panel led by Abdul Rahman, was made in an appeal involving a seven-year-old child, who was born five months and 24 days (or five months and 27 days according to the Islamic Qamariah calendar) after his parents married.

The child was registered with the NRD two years after birth and at the time of doing this, the parents had jointly applied to have “MEMK” named as the father, but the NRD registered the child as “bin Abdullah” instead, Malaysiakini reported.

In 2003, the National Fatwa Committee declared that a child conceived out of wedlock (“Anak Tak Sah Taraf”) cannot carry the name (“tidak boleh dinasabkan”) of the person who claims to be the father of the child, if the child was born less than six months of the marriage.

The appellate court in its decision also pointed that an edict by the National Fatwa Committee has no jurisdiction over civil matter.

Justice Abdul Rahman had said that the NRD director-general was not obligated to apply, let alone to be bound by a fatwa issued by a religious body such as the National Fatwa Committee.

A fatwa or a religious edict issued by a religious body, he reportedly said, has no force of law, unless the fatwa or edict has been made or adopted as federal law in the Parliament.

The ruling could effectively allow all Muslim children born out of wedlock to finally bear their father’s name.