Revathi case can’t be heard because she’s freed

SHAH ALAM: The High Court ruled yesterday that it could not hear a habeas corpus application by a man whose wife had been detained by the Islamic authorities because she had been released on Thursday. 

Revathi Masoosai, 29, whose Muslim name is Siti Fatimah Abdul Karim, had been detained at the Baitul Aman Faith Rehabilitation Centre in Ulu Yam by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council since Jan 8. 

Revathi, who married Suresh Veerapan according to Hindu rites at a temple in Malacca in 2004 and has an 18-month-old daughter, was arrested after she had gone to the Syariah Court in Malacca to change her Muslim name and religion in her identity card. 

Justice Su Geok Yiam, who was scheduled to hear Suresh's application yesterday morning, ruled she would not because it was now academic since Revathi had been released. 

She dismissed the argument of counsel Karpal Singh that she should still hear the application because the case was of public interest and would have an impact on similar cases in the future. 

Karpal Singh had also argued that it was important that Revathi disclose to the civil court what had happened in the Syariah Court when she had gone to change her name and religion and her subsequent detention and release after 178 days. 

Haniff Khatri, counsel for the Selangor Islamic Religious Council, replied that the council maintained the detention was lawful and that, following the release, this court was the wrong forum to determine its legality. 

In his application, Suresh, also 29, said his wife had gone to the Malacca Religious Department first to change her name and religion after their marriage but that officers there had told her to go to the Syariah Court there. 

He claimed that no one had issued any order against them living as husband and wife prior to Revathi's arrest. 

Karpal Singh told reporters later he would file an appeal on Monday. 

He added it was strange for the Malacca Syariah High Court to set a condition on Revathi’s release that she would have to live with her parents, as Revathi is an adult. 

Revathi, who was also present, said her mother had been a Hindu and her father a Christian, until they converted to Islam. 

She said, however, that her mother had raised her as a Hindu and that she continued to practise the religion after her marriage. 

Revathi said she had wanted to change her name and religious status because she was a practising Hindu. 

Malaysian Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam was happy that Revathi had been released but said forcing her to live with her parents was treating her like a child, reports LEE YUK PENG. 

“She is a mother and she has the right to take her child and live where she wants,” he said, adding that the conditions imposed by the Syariah High Court in releasing her infringed on her rights.  

The Bar Council was also concerned about such conditions being imposed on an adult, said its chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan. 

“We expect an unconditional release. It is unusual to force an adult to live with her parents,” she said.  

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