Hornbill Unleashed

February 8, 2018

In ‘bin Abdullah’ case, lawyer claims appellate court ‘lost the plot’, swayed by emotions

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

Lawyer Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, who represented the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAIJ), accused the Court of Appeal of ignoring the importance of Islam in Malaysia's constitutional setup and of appealing to emotions by focusing attention on the 'poor child'. Picture by Azinuddin GhazaliThe Court of Appeal “lost the plot” when delivering its landmark ruling in the high-profile “bin Abdullah” case and was swayed by emotions, a lawyer for the Johor religious authorities claimed today.

Lawyer Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah, who represented the Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAIJ) who had intervened in the case, accused the Court of Appeal of ignoring the importance of Islam in Malaysia’s constitutional setup and of appealing to emotions by focusing attention on the “poor child”.

“What the court has sought to do is set aside tenets or Islamic law in pursuit of an imaginary equalisation or sympathetic treatment of the child.

“We all come to this world subject to various forces and unfairness. We have to take it as it is,” he told the Federal Court.

“Here it is quite clear that the Court of Appeal has totally lost the picture of the status of Islamic law in our constitutional jurisprudence,” he said.

Sulaiman then went on to highlight Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, arguing that the courts have to “recognise this fact that the civil courts should not get involved in Islamic law matters”.

He also said that Islamic law matters should be decided by experts of Islamic law, argued that civil courts have no jurisdiction in matters under the Shariah courts’ jurisdiction.

“Putting it broadly the Court of Appeal has lost the plot in deciding what is the correct law. It seems to be swayed more by emotions than the clear dictates of the law,” he later claimed.

Today was the hearing of the National Registration Department’s (NRD) appeal against a court order for it to drop “bin Abdullah” from the name of the child of the Johor Muslim couple. MAIJ is an intervener in this case.

Lawyer K. Shanmuga, who represented the Johor Muslim couple and their child who will be turning 10 this year, however argued that the Court of Appeal had not gone into emotions although the language of their judgment was “perhaps a little colourful”.

Shanmuga said the Court of Appeal had merely looked into the “best interests” of the child, noting that this was related to Malaysia’s signing of international conventions.

He highlighted Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that was ratified by Malaysia, where all government bodies including courts and administrative authorities have to place the best interests of the child as the primary consideration.

“This is basic, in most cases of law where the child is concerned, they look at best interests of the child. It is not wrong for courts to look into best interests of the child,” Shanmuga said.

Sulaiman later said he strongly objected to Islamic law being seen as against the best interests of the child, asserting that Islamic law takes into account the interests of everyone.

He also alleged that there was an attempt for procedural law in the form of the Births and Deaths Registration Act to overcome substantive Islamic law.

Chief Justice Tun Md Raus Sharif, who chaired the Federal Court panel today, said the decision will be delivered on another date to be fixed.

The other judges on the five-man panel today are the Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Federal Court judges Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Datuk Seri Balia Yusof Wahi, and Tan Sri Aziah Ali.

On September 3, 2015, the Johor Muslim couple — given the initials of M.E.M.K. and N.A.W. — and their child had filed the lawsuit against the NRD, the NRD director-general and the government of Malaysia to seek the change of the “bin Abdullah” patronym to the father’s name in the birth certificate.

The High Court had on August 4, 2016 dismissed the Johor Muslim couple’s lawsuit and ruled that the NRD director-general’s refusal to change the “bin Abdullah” patronym in the child’s birth certificate was lawful.

The Court of Appeal had on May 25, 2017 unanimously delivered a landmark ruling that quashed the NRD director-general’s decision to use the “bin Abdullah” patronym, also ordering him to correct the patronym in the birth certificate as he cannot override the father’s wishes to have his name used.

Noting that the NRD had based its decision on the National Fatwa Committee’s two fatwas dated 1981 and 2003, the Court of Appeal had said a fatwa is not law and has no force of law and cannot be the legal basis for the NRD D-G’s decision on the surname of illegitimate Muslim children.

Present today as amicus curiae to assist the court are the lawyers for the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council, and 41 parents who faced similar problems with NRD’s “bin Abdullah” policy for Muslim illegitimate children.

Today, Lawyer Goh Siu Lin held a watching brief for the Bar Council, while lawyers Hafez Zalkapli and Ilyani Noor Khuszairy held a watching brief for the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia.

Source : The Malay Mail Online by IDA LIM



1 Comment »

  1. Bigoted religious views, opinions and arguments should and must rightly belong inside Umno Baru tong sampah biru.

    Comment by Awaken Dayak — February 8, 2018 @ 11:35 AM | Reply

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