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Monday September 24, 2007

Federal Court needs time over Subashini appeal

MYT 7:31:18 PM

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has reserved judgment in the appeal of a woman who is trying to prevent her Muslim-convert husband from dissolving their marriage in the Syariah Court and converting their second son. 

Federal Court Justices Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman, Abdul Aziz Mohamad and Azmel Ma’amor said they needed time to consider all points raised by Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla, counsel for R. Subashini and T. Saravanan, respectively. 

“The time required is necessary for us to come to a correct decision,” said Justice Nik Hashim on Monday. 

In September last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Subashini’s application to stop Saravanan from resolving their marital problems in the Syariah Court. 

On March 13, Court of Appeal judges Suriyadi Halim Omar, Hassan Lah and Gopal Sri Ram had, in a 2-1 majority judgment, ordered Subashini to take her divorce and custody claims to the Syariah Court. 

Two weeks later, the same panel in a majority judgment, granted an injunction preventing Saravanan from initiating or continuing with any proceedings in the syariah courts or converting their younger son. 

Subashini, 28, and Saravanan, 31, have yet to finalise their divorce. They have two children – Dharvin Joshua, four, and one-year-old Sharvin.  

Saravanan claimed the elder child converted to Islam with him last May. 

At the outset, Malik said the contention that Subashini could submit to the Syariah Court’s jurisdiction was unacceptable as the Federal Constitution limited the provisions of syariah law to Muslims only.  

Therefore, Subashini could only submit to the provisions of civil law, he said. 

Doing a comparison, Malik said the Federal Constitution was the supreme law of the land unlike the Federal Constitution in Pakistan where its supreme law was syariah law. 

“Since our Federal Constitution states it is the supreme law of the land, it only provides one mechanism for the creation of law, the Dewan Rakyat and state assembly,” he said. 

Malik also said that this was the reason why there was an administration of law enactment in every state relating to syariah matters. 

“There is Islamic law which is guided by the muftis and fatwa council of the respective states but until it is enacted, it is not an enforceable law,” he said.  

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