KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has ruled that Cheong Mei Kuen, who claims to be the wife of late banker Hussain Ahmad Najadi, is not entitled to his estate.
Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera held on Friday that Cheong was not a person recognised in law as being entitled to the grant of letter of administration to the estate of the deceased.
"On the evidence before me, there is only one person benefically entitled to the estate of the deceased, and that is the applicant (the late banker's only son Pascal Ahmad Najadi).
"There is no evidence of the estate of the deceased being insolvent or are there any special circumstance warranting the appointment of someone other than the beneficiary," he said.
Pascal, 46, who was represented by lawyer Dharmesh Penesar, stated that the Syariah High Court had confirmed that he was the sole beneficiary via the issuance of a Sijil Faraid (inheritance and distribution certificate) to him on his late father's assets.
Pascal, who is chairman and CEO of merchant finance advisory firm Najadi & Partners Sdn Bhd, inherited RM1.82mil in cash and shares from his father under the Faraid law.
Cheong, 49, who was injured during a shooting incident last year, had filed a caveat against the issuance of any letters of administration for the late Hussain's estate on grounds that she was a person interested in the estate.
Cheong, who was represented by lawyer Joshua Kevin, filed an affidavit stating that she was lawfully married to Hussain in Australia under a civil marriage in accordance to the Australian law.
She said the marriage was recognised as valid under Section 104 of the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce Act) 1976.
As a result of the marriage, Cheong said she was a lawful beneficiary to the estate of the deceased, pursuant to Section 6 of the Distribution Act.
On the other hand, Pascal said the marriage registered in Australia was not recognised under Malaysian law as the deceased was at all times a Muslim and as such, the provisions of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce Act) did not apply.
Hussain Ahmad, 75, was shot at close range at a parking lot while leaving the Kuan Yin Temple in Lorong Ceylon on last July 29. He died at the scene.
JC Vazeer Alam said the court would have to take cognisance of the Sijil Faraid that had been issued by the Syariah High Court.
"The applicant's position is that the caveator (Cheong) is a non-Muslim and as such, is not a beneficiary to the estate of the deceased. The caveator has never challenged this assertion nor has she shown any prove that she is a Muslim.
"It is trite that under the law, a non-Muslim is not recognised as a beneficiary to an intestate (a person who has died without having made a will) Muslim's estate," JC Vazeer Alam said in allowing Pascal's application seeking for letter of administration to be issued over his late father's estate.
He found that the Law Reform Act was not applicable to determine the validity of spousal relationship between Hussain and Cheong, as the deceased was a Muslim.
"The deceased, according to the death certificate, was at the time of death an Iranian national, and a permanent resident in Malaysia professing the religion of Islam.
"Therefore, validity of that marriage would have to be determined under the provisions of the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act 1984 and not the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce Act) 1976," he added.
He ordered Cheong to pay RM500 in costs.