Conversion of children to Islam: Court dismisses appeals by Muslim-convert mother, Registrar of Muallaf

by BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – The Court of Appeal today dismissed appeals by a Muslim-convert mother and the Federal Territory Registrar of Muallaf against a High Court’s decision to quash the unilateral conversion of the two children to Islam.

A three-member bench led by Justice Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah in a unanimous decision said the Court of Appeal was bound by the Federal Court’s decision in the kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi’s case.

“We are of the view that the High Court judge and this Court of Appeal are bound by the Federal Court’s decision in Indira Gandhi’s case.

“We find no appealable error made by the learned High Court judge. Therefore, we find no merits in this appeal. Both the appeals are dismissed. The decision of the High Court judge is affirmed. No order as to costs,” justice Mohamad Zabidin said at the virtual proceedings today.

The other two judges were Datuk S. Nantha Balan and Datuk Nordin Hassan.

On Oct 16, 2018, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur allowed the judicial review by the father of the children, a Buddhist, to quash the unilateral conversion to Islam of his two children born in a civil marriage by the woman who was a Buddhist then.

Then High Court judge Datuk Azizah Nawawi (now Court of Appeal judge) had said that it was not in dispute that the certificates of conversion of the children were issued without the consent of the children’s father.

She said she was bound by the Federal Court decision in the Indira Gandhi case in which the Federal Court’s five-man panel in January 2018 ruled that the consent of both parents were required before a child born in a civil marriage can be converted to Islam.

In Indira’s case, a Hindu mother had filed a similar judicial review application to challenge her Muslim convert ex-husband’s unilateral conversion of their three children.

In today’s matter, the father of the children had filed a judicial review to quash the conversion of his two young children who were converted to Islam in May 2016 without his knowledge and consent.

The identities of the family cannot be disclosed due to a High Court order issued on May 21, 2018.

The Court of Appeal’s decision in September 2018 which granted full custody of the children to the father was affirmed following the mother’s failure to obtain leave to pursue her appeal in the Federal Court.

Lawyer Nizam Bashir represented the Registrar of Muallaf, while senior federal counsel Nik Isfahanie Tasnim Wan Ab Rahman appeared for the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department director-general, the education ministry director-general and the government.

Lawyer K. Shanmuga represented the father, while lawyer Arham Rahimy Hariri appeared for the mother.