Legal challenge filed against unilateral conversion

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi (pic) and two women who claimed to be victims of unilateral conversion to Islam are among 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 the former chairman of Malaysia Hindu Sangam and the 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 are individuals who are residents of Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negri 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 are seeking a court declaration that the state enactments that allow the unilateral conversion of children into Islam are invalid as they violate Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution and other matters interpreted in the Indira Gandhi case in 2018.

The plaintiffs also sought a declaration that unilateral conversion is unconstitutional and breaches Article 12(4), as well as other relief 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 that Article 12(4) states the word “parent” should not be construed literally and that the consent of both parents is 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 Baru when she was 10, without the consent of her father.

Both women claimed they had never professed or practised the Islamic religion but were practising Hindus.

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