PUTRAJAYA, Oct 9 — The Federal Court has fixed Feb 7 next year to hear the appeal by the National Registration Department (NRD) and two others against a ruling that a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock can bear his or her father’s surname instead of “Abdullah”.
Federal Court deputy registrar Syahrin Jeli Bohari set the hearing date for the appeal when the matter came up before her for case management today.
Present at the proceeding were senior federal counsel Aida Nurdiana Che Kamarulzaman, representing the NRD, its director-general and the Government of Malaysia, while lawyer Haziq Othman appeared for the Johor Islamic Religious Council and lawyer Kiattilin Sommat, representing the parents and the child.
The parties in the case were also instructed to file their respective submissions two weeks before the hearing.
On Sept 8, the Federal Court granted the NRD and two others leave to appeal against the appellate court’s decision that a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock can have the father’s surname instead of “Abdullah”.
Three legal questions were posed for determination by the Federal Court.
On May 25, this year the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal brought by the couple and their child who filed a judicial review to compel the NRD director-general to replace the child’s surname “Abdullah” with the name of the child’s father in the birth certificate.
The Court of Appeal, in a written judgment released on July 25 this year, said the NRD director-general was not bound by the ‘fatwa’ or religious edict issued by the National Fatwa Committee to decide the surname of a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock.
In the judgment, the court said the director-general’s jurisdiction was a civil one and was confined to determining whether the child’s parents had fulfilled the requirements under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA), which covers all illegitimate children, Muslim and non-Muslim.
The court had held that a fatwa had no force of law and could not form the legal basis for the NRD director-general to decide on the surname of an illegitimate child under Section 13A (2) of the BDRA. — Bernama