Leave it to the civil courts


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 17 Jan 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Civil courts should have the right to decide on issues raised within a civil marriage and this should not be disrupted by conversion of either partner, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

The minister, who is one of five Cabinet members assigned to study the implications of kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi’s case, said the Cabinet had discussed the matter.

“When two non-Muslims are married with children and one person chooses to convert, the issues related to their marriage should be resolved within the ambits of the civil court. That is the crux of our decision.

“This is not a religious issue, this is a legal issue where the law has been differently interpreted by different people. There are judgements where even the judges have said there is a need to amend the laws,” he said after attending a Ponggal celebration at Batu Caves.

Four other ministers assigned to study the case are Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

Indira Gandhi had gone to court in 2009 after her ex-husband converted to Islam and unilaterally converted their three underage children – Tevi Darsiny, Karan Dinish and Prasana Diksa – to Islam without her knowledge or consent.

On Dec 30, the Court of Appeal led by Justice Balia Yusof Wahi, held in a majority ruling that only the Syariah Court could determine the validity of conversion of the children.

Prasana Diksa, who is now eight, is still under the custody of her Muslim convert father Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.

Dr Subramaniam said there was a need to make amendments to the necessary laws to provide a clearer picture so that interpretations of the laws were more accurate.

“We need to give greater clarity to the law so that judges have little room to interpret differently.

“We are discussing with the Attorney-General’s Chambers on what we can do but I cannot go into more details yet,” he said.

Asked about the next course if the Conference of Rulers objected to the Cabinet’s decision, Dr Subramaniam said the Government was exploring other options too.

Mohamed Nazri, who was law minister in 2013, had revealed at the time that the Conference of Rulers had objected to the implementation of the 2009 court decision, which quashed the conversion certificates of all three children.

In Ipoh, people from all walks of life showed their support for Indira by taking part in a solidarity walk.

Organised by the Perak Women for Women society, the walk was held at Sultan Abdul Aziz recreational park yesterday.

Politicians, lawyers, non-governmental organisation members and supporters walked some 2km alongside Indira around the park.

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