THE Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) will study the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock to carry the father’s name before deciding its next course of action.
The New Straits Times reported AGC Civil Division head Amarjeet Singh as saying that A-G Mohamed Apandi Ali would get input from various parties, including shariah experts, before appealing the ruling.
A notice to appeal the ruling at the Federal Court has been filed and the AGC will decide during the case management hearing on September 18.
“He (Apandi) said we (AGC) would discuss with the chambers’ shariah section on their views as they are the experts on this matter. “By the time the case management is up (on September 18) at the Federal Court, we will decide whether we want to proceed,” he was reported saying at the Federal Court yesterday.
The Court of Appeal’s landmark ruling has drawn mixed reactions from the legal fraternity and criticism from some Muslims lawyers and mufti, who say that a national fatwa on naming a Muslim child conceived outside marriage with the surname “Abdullah” was binding on birth registrations under civil law if the child and parents are Muslim.
The National Registration Department (NRD) yesterday said it would continue to register the births of Muslim children born out of wedlock in this manner, notwithstanding the Court of Appeal’s decision. Some lawyers have reportedly said this amounted to the department being in contempt of the court’s decision.
Director-general of NRD Mohd Yazid Ramli said any change to how things are done at the department would only be made after the Federal Court ruled on the appeal filed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
Court of Appeal judge Abdul Rahman Sebli, who wrote the unanimous decision of a three-man panel, said the jurisdiction of the director-general of NRD was a civil one, bounding the latter to civil law.
This means NRD is to refer to Section 13A(2) of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (BDRA) when making decisions relating to a child’s surname.
The ruling, which covers both Muslim and non-Muslim children conceived out of wedlock, was made in an appeal involving a seven-year-old child 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 NRD two years after birth and the parents jointly applied to have the father “MEMK” named as the child’s father, but the department registered the child as “bin Abdullah” instead.
Religious authorities insist the matter is one for the shariah courts to decide as it involves Muslims.