PUTRAJAYA: Former bank clerk S. Shamala was allowed by the Court of Appeal here Tuesday to discharge her lawyers from representing her in three appeals brought by her Muslim convert husband concerning the custody of their two sons.
A three-man panel presided by Datuk Sulaiman Daud and also comprising justices Datuk Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad and Anantham Kasinater granted the discharge order with no order as to cost.
Lawyer Steven Thiru told the court that Shamala, 39, had given instructions that he and two other lawyers, Ravi Nekko and David Mathew, discharge themselves from representing her.
He said Shamala, who did not want to pursue her civil case concerning her children's custody, took the view that there was no legal remedy following the Federal Court's decision to decline to answer constitutional questions with regard to the custody issue.
The panel fixed Dec 1 to hear the appeals brought by Dr Muhammad Ridzwan, 43, formerly known as Dr Jeyaganesh C. Mogarajah.
Among the appeals were concerning the decision of the High Court in giving joint custody of their children, Saktiwaran and Theiviswaran, but imposing a caveat on Shamala, prohibiting her from teaching her children the practice of the Hindu faith and making them eat pork.
Shamala and her two sons, believed to be in Australia, withdrew her appeal and cross-appeal on Aug 1.
The appeal was against the High Court's dismissal of her application for a declaration to nullify the conversion of her two sons by her estranged husband.
The cross-appeal was with regard to the decision of the High Court granting joint-custody of the children to her and her husband.
In Tuesday's proceeding, Thiru also refuted allegations that the legal team was acting on its own without any instruction from Shamala, saying that they had filed affidavits to show that they took directions from Shamala's family and Shamala herself.
The couple was married in 1998 according to Hindu rites and their marriage was registered under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.
In 2002, Dr Muhammad Ridzwan embraced Islam and subsequently converted their two sons to Islam without Shamala's knowledge and consent. He also obtained a 'hadanah' custody order from the Syariah Court.
On Nov 12, last year, the Federal Court declined to answer key constitutional questions in the couple's dispute because the mother and their children were absent in court.
Muhammad Ridzwan was represented by counsle V. Mugunthan. The Malaysian Bar's vice-president Christopher Leong held a watching brief for the Bar Council. - Bernama