Apex court dismisses application to intervene in 'bin Abdullah' appeal

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 23 Jan 2018

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has dismissed an application by 20 couples and one single parent to become parties in an appeal on whether a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock can take his or her father's surname instead of “bin Abdullah”.

Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif said the lawyers for the parties have to be present at the hearing of the appeal on Feb 7 to seek the court’s permission to appear as amicus curiae (friend of the court).

No order to cost was made.

Azhar Azizan Harun appeared for the couples and the single parent while Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan acted for the National Registration Department (NRD), its director-general, and the Government.

On Sept 8, last year Justice Md Raus, leading a three-man panel of the apex court, granted the NRD leave to appeal against an earlier Court of Appeal ruling.

On May 25, last year a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal chaired by Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat unanimously ruled that the NRD director-general was not bound by a fatwa (religious edict) issued by the National Fatwa Committee to decide on the surname of a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock.

The other judges were Justices Abdul Rahman Sebli and Zaleha Yusof.

In the judgment, Justice Abdul Rahman said the director-general's jurisdiction was a civil one and was confined to determining whether the child's parents had fulfilled the requirements under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957, which covers all illegitimate children, Muslim or non-Muslim.

Justice Abdul Rahman said the director-general had acted irrationally in refusing to alter a child's surname from "Abdullah" to that of the child's father in the birth certificate, on the purported grounds that the fatwa did not allow it.

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