Woman's quest to be declared a non-Muslim rejected by Appeals Court

PUTRAJAYA: A Selangor woman born to a Muslim father but raised as a Buddhist by her Buddhist mother has lost her application at the Court of Appeal to be declared a non-Muslim.

This was the unanimous decision of the court, presided by Justice Umi Kalthum alongside Justices Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Suraya Othman.

The woman - Rozliza Ibrahim - claimed she was born out of wedlock to a Muslim father and her late Buddhist mother. She claimed that they were never legally married wanted the court to declare her a non-Muslim.

In her lawsuit, Rosliza sought declarations that the Islamic laws of Selangor do not apply to her and that the Syariah Court has no jurisdiction over her.

Earlier, Rosliza's counsel Aston Paiva said it was presumed she was born a Muslim based on an assumption that there was a valid marriage between her parents and her late mother converted to Islam.

He said she has been put in predicament by her parents and all she wanted was to get out of it.

Rosliza, 36, had named the Selangor government as the respondent in her appeal. The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) was the intervener.

"The Syariah Court can only give a declaration when the person is no longer a Muslim but it cannot make an order that the person is not a Muslim," said Aston.

Meanwhile, Selangor state legal advisor Datuk Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman argued that the appellant was considered a Muslim based on her identity card.

Nik Suhaimi said the best way for her to declare that she was not a Muslim was to go to the Syariah Court.

In the earlier High Court case, Rosliza provided evidence from the Federal Territories and Selangor religious authorities that neither she nor her mother ever converted to Islam and that the departments did not have records of a marriage between her biological parents.

Rosliza’s mother had also signed a statutory declaration sta­ting that she had never married Rosliza’s father.

The High Court had in March 2016 dismissed Rosliza’s application on grounds that she was not able to prove that her natural parents did not contract a Muslim marriage.

However, on October 11, 2016, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Rosliza and ordered her case to be heard again in the High Court before a different judge.

Given a second chance at the Shah Alam High Court, Rosliza went to the religious authorities of 10 other states in Malaysia (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis and Terengganu), and managed to get their confirmation that they did not have any records of her mother converting to become a Muslim, or of a Muslim marriage between her parents.

She even obtained the Immigration Department’s confirmation that her mother did not have a passport, which is necessary for travel abroad.

However, the Shah Alam High Court on June 22, 2017 rejected Rosliza’s bid, as her natural parents could have gotten married but did not register the marriage.

The Court of Appeal ruled today (April 25) that there was no error made by the Shah Alam High Court.

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