Thursday, March 11, 2010

Landmark ruling in custody/conversion case

The Ipoh High Court today has made a landmark ruling that it has the jurisdiction to hear family matters involving custody of children although one party has converted to Islam.

Justice Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim allowed the application of a 35-year-old Hindu mother custody to her three children who were converted to Islam by her estranged 41 year-old husband, who had also converted to Islam.

After a one-year legal battle, kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi has won custody of daughter Tevidarsiny, 13, son Karan Dinish, 12, and daughter Prasana Diksa, 2.

Iindira gandhi children custody case 110310 ipoh high courtndira (wearing green in photo) had claimed that her ex-husband K Pathmanathan @ Muhammad Riduan Abdullah converted to Islam along with her three children in April 2009.

The two elder children are with their mother while the youngest child is in the custody of the father.

Muhammad Riduan later sought custody of the three children through the Syariah Court which granted custody to him.

Indira then filed an application in the High Court challenging the Syariah Court's ruling.

Afrah made the decision in her chambers after meeting Indira's four lawyers - K Shanmuga, M Kulasegaran, A Sivanesan and Fahri Azzat, and the other four lawyers representing her ex- husband.

According to Sivanesan, Wan Afrah had ruled that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the case after the Federal Court had ruled in a similar conversion case two years ago which favoured the mother Subashini who wanted custody of her children after her husband had converted to Islam.

Kulasegaran added the judge was disappointed that the father had not brought to court the youngest child as ordered to by the court in the last hearing on Jan 22.

However, Indira brought the other two children to court today as directed by the court earlier.

According to Sivanesan, Wan Afrah made the order that either the father or any other agent holding Prasana to surrender her into the custody of the mother immediately, and the father has a weekly one-day visiting right to Prasana.

Sivanesan said that they will make an application to get the fair copy of the judgement in the afternoon and get the police assistance to get Prasana from her either her father or any other agent holding the child.

"If the father refuses to surrender the child than contempt proceedings will be taken against him," warned Sivanesan.

Good news for mothers

Earlier, on another application by Indira to have the conversion certificates of her three children to be quashed, Wan Afrah fixed April 2 to seek clarification from both parties on the issue.

An overjoyed Indira told the media outside the court, that she was very happy that her one-year ordeal in being separated from Prasana was finally over and she would be united with her daughter soon.

Kulasegaran said: "This is a bold decision by judge Wan Afrah as in previous cases the High Courts did not want to interfere in the decisions made by the Syariah courts.

"This landmark decision will go a long way in helping other mothers who cannot get custody of their children due to their husbands converting to Islam."

courtesy of Malaysiakini

1 comment:

Chauncey Gardener said...

A ruling that is based on justice and fairness. Will the Muslim religious bodies & NGOs protest ?