Hornbill Unleashed

January 30, 2018

Baru: Impact of apex court ruling goes beyond conversion cases

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

baru-bian-indira-1Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has commended the Federal Court’s move to set aside the unilateral conversion of M Indira Gandhi’s three children to Islam as a precedent for courts that have been unwilling to make similar judgments.

He said the ruling today that any conversion of non-Muslim children must get the consent of both parents would address the dilemma faced by many people in states where there was no express provision in the Syariah ordinance to decide on certain matters.

He said High Courts in these states were reluctant to make decisions, citing jurisdictional concerns.

He said it was significant that the Federal Court had declared that Parliament’s move to insert clause (1A) in Article 121 – that the High Courts shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts – did not oust the jurisdiction of the civil courts nor did it confer judicial power on the Syariah Courts.

Baru said this ruling went beyond the confines of conversion cases.

“The Court is in fact declaring that the civil courts have supremacy over Syariah Courts, and their judicial power cannot be constrained by Parliament,” the Ba’kelalan state assemblyman said.

“The Federal Constitution is supreme, the power of the civil courts is unshakable, and that supports our stand that Malaysia is a secular country,” he said in a statement today.

Baru said although the Federal Court had in Indira’s case decided on the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004, the principles elucidated applied to all state Syariah enactments.

“With this authoritative statement, there should be no more doubt that judicial power lies firmly in the civil courts.

“The court here has made it clear that where one party is a non-Muslim, the Syariah Court cannot extend its own jurisdiction over that person and the proper forum is the civil courts. That is the rational and correct stand,” he said.

The court’s ruling today put an end to the interfaith custody battle that followed after Indira’s ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, formerly known as K Pathmanathan, converted her three children without her knowledge in 2009.

Baru said the unanimous decision by the five-member bench was indeed a landmark ruling.

“It is a clear and cogent judgment that will hopefully put an end to cases of unilateral conversions of minors.

“It is also a badly needed definitive statement on the limits of the powers and the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts.

“It gives us new hope that the minority communities still have recourse to the courts even when their government fails them,” he said.

Source : The FMT Online



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