Appeals court dismisses Indira Gandhi's appeal for leave to cite IGP for contempt

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal on Friday (April 5) dismissed an appeal by kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi over a High Court’s dismissal of her bid for leave to initiate contempt proceedings against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for failing to comply with a recovery order to locate her daughter, Prasana Diksa, who was taken away by her ex-husband in 2019.

A three-judge panel led by Justice Azizah Nawawi held that both the High Court and the appellate court were bound by a 2016 Federal Court ruling, which decided that a recovery order cannot be granted where there are two conflicting custodial orders.

The two custodial orders were that by a Syariah Court giving custody of the three children to Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband K. Pathmanathan and the other order by the Civil High Court which gave custody of the children to the mother (Indira Gandhi).

Justice Azizah said the Federal Court 2016 ruling also decided that the IGP can be excused for not taking any action regarding the recovery order when there are two conflicting custodial orders.

She said the appellate court agreed with the High Court that Indira Gandhi did not have any basis to apply for leave to initiate contempt proceedings against the IGP.

The panel, which also consisted of Justices Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali and Hashim Hamzah, also ordered Indira Gandhi to pay RM10,000 in costs.

In 2016, the Federal Court issued an order for the IGP to arrest Pathmanathan for defying a High Court order for him to hand over his youngest daughter to Indira Gandhi.

However, the Federal Court did not grant the recovery order sought by Indira Gandhi for the return of her daughter.

The Federal Court had also remitted the case back to the High Court in Ipoh for the judge to monitor the progress of the execution of the warrant of committal against Pathmanathan.

On March 3, 2009, Pathmanathan converted to Islam and unilaterally converted their three children to Islam.

He then obtained a custody order for the three children from the Syariah High Court, and on March 11, 2010, Indira Gandhi was granted custody of the children by the civil High Court.

However, after she was granted the order, Pathmanathan took away Prasana, who was then eleven months old.

Indira Gandhi had commenced committal proceedings against Pathmanathan, whose Muslim name is Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, for refusing to comply with the custody order. The High Court found him guilty of contempt of court and issued the warrant of committal.

She then obtained a mandamus order in September 2014 to compel the IGP to execute the warrant of committal against Pathmanathan after the IGP refused to mandate the execution of the warrant of committal on the ground that the police had been put in a quandary as there were two conflicting court orders granting custody of the children.

On May 30, 2014, Indira Gandhi obtained a recovery order from the High Court directing the IGP or Police Commissioner or the Chief Police officer to direct and ensure the relevant police officers file an affidavit every first week of the month to update the court on the recovery process of Prasana.

She claimed the police had failed to file the affidavits and subsequently filed an application for leave to initiate contempt proceedings.

On Aug 4, 2022, the Ipoh High Court dismissed Indira Gandhi’s application to get leave to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the IGP prompting her to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Lawyers Rajesh Nagarajan and Sachpreetraj Singh Sohanpal represented Indira Gandhi while senior federal counsel Mankiranjit Kaur appeared for the IGP. - Bernama

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