M. Indira Gandhi and 13 other plaintiffs file legal challenge against unilateral conversion

M. Indira Gandhi. - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi and two women who claimed to be victims of unilateral conversion to Islam are amongst 14 plaintiffs who have filed a legal challenge against eight state governments over state laws that allowed unilateral conversion without the consent of both parents.

Indira, Aisyah Muhammad Ali, Mimi Mastura Abdullah, and 11 others filed the originating summons at the High Court here on March 3.

Other plaintiffs on the lawsuit are former chairman of Malaysia Hindu Sangam and Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism S. Mohan; chairman of the Indira Gandhi Action Team Arun Dorasamy; NGO Hindu Agamam Ani, while the rest of the plaintiffs were individuals who were residents of Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and Kuala Lumpur.

They named the state governments of Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and the Federal Territories government as defendants.

Indira and the others were seeking for a court declaration that the state enactments which allowed the unilateral conversion of children into Islam as invalid as it violated Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution and other matters interpreted in the Indira Gandhi case in 2018.

The plaintiffs also sought for a declaration that unilateral conversion was unconstitutional and breached Article 12(4) as well as other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

On Jan 29, 2018, the Federal Court nullified the unilateral conversion of Indira's three children to Islam by her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.

The five-man panel of the apex court unanimously ruled that the consent of both parents must be sought and the Article 12 (4) that stated the word "parent" should not be construed literally and that the consent of both parents were required.

In a supporting affidavit affirmed by Aisyah, she said she was converted to Islam in Kota Tinggi, Johor, by her father when she was nine and without the consent of her mother.

Meanwhile, Mimi Mastura claimed she was converted to Islam by her mother in Johor Bahru, Johor, when she was 10 and without the consent of her father.

Both women claimed they had never professed or practised Islam but were Hindus.

Case management has been fixed for April 5.

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