High Court allows judicial review bid by woman seeking to challenge conversion to Islam

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here has allowed a leave application to initiate judicial review by a 41-year-old insurance agent who is seeking to challenge her conversion to Islam by her father when she was 10.

In a decision by Justice Mariana Yahya, which was delivered via e-mail to parties involved on Thursday (March 25), the court said there was a prima facie case that needed further examination at a substantive hearing stage.

Senior Federal Counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly and Federal Counsel Mohammad Sallehuddin Md Ali appeared for the government.

FC Mohammad Sallehuddin, when contacted, confirmed that the court has granted leave to the woman to commence the judicial review proceeding.

“The case has been fixed for case management on April 8, ” he said on Thursday.

The woman, whose name is withheld for privacy reasons, filed the legal action in November last year.

She named the director of the National Registration Department (NRD), the government and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) as the first, second and third respondents respectively.

She said she was born in Singapore to Buddhist parents in 1980.

On Feb 3,1990, she said her father converted to Islam while he was still married to her mother, who did not convert.

He converted her, then a 10-year-old, and gave her a Muslim name on Oct 4,1990, at the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).

Her parents eventually divorced in 1993.

The woman said her mother had never given her father consent to change her religion at all material times.

Since reaching the age of 18, the woman, who is staying with her mother, said she only professed the religion of Buddhism.

On Aug 24, last year, the woman renounced the use of her Muslim name and took on her birth name.

She also made a statutory declaration to seek a new MyKad to restore her original name and had for the word “Islam” to be omitted from the new identity card.

On Aug 28,2020, she applied for a new identity card at the NRD’s Ipoh branch in Perak but an NRD counter officer refused to process the application unless she produced orders from the Syariah High Court.

She then filed the application for leave for judicial review against the respondents after receiving no response from the NRD.

In her application, she is seeking a court declaration that she is a practising Buddhist.

She is seeking a mandamus order to compel the NRD to restore her birth name and to issue her a new identity card with her original name, to drop the word "Islam" from the replacement card.

She is also seeking a mandamus order to compel Mais to remove her name from a muallaf (Muslim converts) registry and to annul her conversion.

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