ICC NOTE: A mother of three in Malaysia had been divorced by her Muslim ex-husband for reasons unknown at the moment in the past couple of years. During the process the father had forcefully converted their three children to Islam in an effort to gain full custody. the mother M. Indira Gandhi, a Muslim herself prior, wished to convert to Christianity to marry her new boyfriend but has not been able to on the account she does not possess the required religious documentation ordered by the Malaysian government. The court system has skirted the issue and will likely pass the case over to a Sharia court as they consider the matter of conversion to be a religious issue rather than a civil case. Since it will likely be referred to a Muslim court of law, the likelihood of her receiving the proper conversion papers are slim. She currently has custody of only one of her three children as the courts again have intervened stating they are Muslim which gives the Muslim father custody.
1/7/2016 Malaysia (Malaysian Insider) – “It’s a proposition that’s ridiculous and without legal basis. I urge her not to waste her time. The civil courts have made it very clear, in this case and in that of Lina Joy’s, that they will not touch on the conversion of a Muslim, regardless of what the issues are,” the former de facto law minister wrote in his blog.
Lina, a Malay-Muslim, had wanted to embrace Christianity to marry her boyfriend, but the National Registration Department insisted she produced a certificate from the religious court which she did not possess.
Zaid, a lawyer by profession, said the civil courts would come up with some excuses that would ultimately pass the problem to the Shariah Court.
“But the Shariah Court (being a religious court) will not even listen to Indira’s plea, and they have a legal right to do that. Why should they do the work of the civil courts?” he asked.
Zaid said he did not know Indira personally, but her case made him angry and sad.
He said his parents were divorced when he was young, but would not dream of using religion to separate the children.
“Even if they did, our courts and our judges in those days would never have allowed it. Back then, judges dispensed justice with their hearts, but not now,” he added.
He said it was heart-wrenching to know that Indira had been denied custody of her child simply because her ex-husband, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah (K. Pathmanathan), had converted their daughter (Prasana Diksa), then aged two, to Islam.
The unilateral conversion of the couple’s three children (Prasana Diksa, Tevi Darsiny and Karan Dinish), made soon after the couple divorced, was yesterday held to be valid by judges Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi and Datuk Dr Badariah Sahamid.
The decision denied Indira the right to be with Prasana.
Tevi and Karan are currently in her custody.
Zaid said he expected the Federal Court to uphold the Court of Appeal decision.
“I ask myself: what kind of country have we become to produce such harsh laws and heartless judges?”
He questioned if the court decision would still be the same if Indira had been a Muslim or had her former husband did the unilateral conversion of the daughter to another religion.
“Of course not. Indira did not get justice because she is not a Muslim,” he added.
Zaid said he felt sick thinking how the legal system could not grant relief to a mother who was deprived of her daughter for so many years.
“What kind of judges have we produced? Do they not feel the need to be human and compassionate? Have they become comfortably numb, ensconced in the multi-million ringgit Palace of Justice.
“How would these judges feel if their spouses, on divorce, converted to another religion and at the same time converted their young children without them knowing?”
He appealed to Malaysians who cared about this case to start raising funds to make a film about the tragedy suffered by Indira.
Setting aside the 2013 Ipoh High Court ruling which quashed the conversion of the three children, Balia yesterday said a conversion matter had to be dealt by the Shariah court.
The only dissenting judge, Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer, said the conversion was purely an administrative matter and was done by the Registrar of Conversion who did not follow the law.