Anxious: Indira Gandhi (left) wiping away her tears as her lawyer, M. Kulasegaran (right), talks to the media at the High Court in Ipoh. Looking on is Karan Dinish (centre).
IPOH: The High Court here is at the verge of making a landmark decision over a custody matter involving a Muslim-convert father who married a Hindu woman under civil laws.
However, before it makes its judgment, Judicial Commissioner Lee Swee Seng said yesterday that the court has to first get the views of various specialised groups on the matter.
He suggested that the Bar Council and Muslim lawyers associations be called to give their expert opinion on Feb 14; when lawyers for both parties are due back in court to submit further on the matter.
JC Lee, who is presiding over contempt proceedings filed by M. Indira Gandhi against Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah to compel him to return their youngest child to her, said there was need for input from diverse groups as the issue at hand was critical.
“This is an important history-in-making,” said JC Lee, whose impending judgment on the matter would become a landmark decision for the nation.
The contempt proceedings, which will be filed at the High Court, is to compel Mohd Ridzuan, formerly known as K. Patmanathan, to return five-year-old Prasana Diksa to Indira Gandhi, 38.
In April 2009, Mohd Ridzuan had taken away Prasana, then 11 months’ old and converted the child and two siblings – Tevi Darsiny, then 12, and Karan Dinish, then 11 – to Islam.
The two elder children remained with their mother.
On Oct 29 the same year, Mohd Ridzuan obtained a Syariah Court order that awarded him custody of the children.
In a custody battle that ensued, the High Court granted Indira full custody of all three children and on March 11, 2010, Mohd Ridzuan was ordered to return Prasana to Indira.
Mohd Ridzuan, however, has not returned the child to the mother, prompting Indira Gandhi to file contempt proceedings against her ex-husband.
JC Lee ordered Mohd Ridzuan, who failed to make it to court yesterday – purportedly due to the expiry of his car road tax – to attend court proceedings and to produce the child at the next court date.
Defence lawyer Asmuni Awi earlier argued there was no contempt or disobedience of the court order since Mohd Ridzuan had been granted custody by the Syariah Court.
Plaintiff lawyer Aston Paiva, however, said the civil court should have jurisdiction over the matter since the couple’s marriage was contracted under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act.