PETALING JAYA: Muslim convert Izwan Abdullah, who allegedly took his six-year-old-son from his ex-wife’s house, has violated the law, said Association of Women Lawyers Malaysia president Meera Samanther.
She said the police should take action against Izwan, also known as N. Viran when he married S. Deepa under civil law in 2004.
“The marriage was under civil law. Action should be taken against him since under the same law, custody of the children has been granted to Deepa,” she said.
The Syariah High Court had last year awarded Izwan custody of their son and nine-year-old daughter.
However, on Monday, the High Court awarded custody of both children to Deepa, 30.
Meera said Izwan had also violated the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961 when he converted the two children in April last year without his ex-wife’s consent.
Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism former president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said the civil court would better serve justice in this matter as it involved both a Muslim and a non-Muslim.
“The civil court is an open court while the Syariah court is closed with only Muslim participation.
“It makes sense for the civil court ruling to be upheld as here, all parties have equal opportunity and facilities to present their case,” he said.
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) wants the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 amended to ensure that the consent of both parents is obtained before children are converted to another religion.
It also wants a provision which states that when a spouse converts, the non-converting spouse must be notified.
Association Against Parental Alienation Kuala Lumpur and Selangor secretary Ronnie Ratna said the Deepa episode was of grave concern to many Malaysians.
“Under such situations, the normal development of children can be impaired. Children in such circumstances may end up growing up with serious life-long psychological problems,” he said.
Ipoh-based lawyer Ranjit Singh Sandhu said section 51 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act clearly stipulated that a spouse who wished to convert to Islam must first annul his or her marriage in the civil court.
“A spouse should not convert to Islam and seek an easy way out to gain custody of his children from the Syariah court without giving his former spouse a chance to be heard,” he said.