Nov 28 for verdict in Mais, Selangor govt's appeals to reinstate woman's conversion to Islam 

13 Sep 2022 04:15pm
Photo for illustration purposes only - Bernama photo
Photo for illustration purposes only - Bernama photo
PUTRAJAYA - The Court of Appeal's three-member panel has set Nov 28 to deliver its verdict on the appeal by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and the state government to reinstate a 35-year old woman's conversion to Islam.

Mais and the Selangor government are appealing to the Court of Appeal against the High Court's decision on Dec 21 last year which nullified the woman's conversion to Islam by her Muslim-convert mother when she was four years old.

Justice Datuk Yaacob Md Sam who sat on the panel with Justices Datuk P. Ravinthran and Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said they need more time to deliberate on the issues raised by counsels representing the respective parties in the appeal.

"It is a case of public interest which requires us to scrutinise the submissions and case laws. We defer our decision to Nov 28,” said Justice Yaacob who chaired the panel.

The woman born in Selangor to a Hindu father and a Buddhist mother who later converted to Islam filed an originating summons in the Shah Alam High Court on May 10 last year, seeking a declaration that she is not a Muslim and wanted the National Registration Department (NRD) to remove the word "Islam” from her identity card.

She claimed that her mother converted her to Islam in 1991 at the Selangor Islamic Religious Department. At the material time, her parents were in the midst of a divorce.

After the divorce, her mother married a Muslim man in 1993 while her father died in an accident in 1996.

The woman said despite her conversion into Islam, she continued to profess the Hindu religion and that her mother and stepfather allowed her to practice Hindu - the religion she was initially born with.

In 2013, the woman filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur Shariah High Court seeking to renounce Islam but her application for renunciation was dismissed in 2017 and she was ordered to attend a series of counselling sessions. The Syariah Appeals Court also upheld the ruling.
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The woman then filed the suit in the Shah Alam High Court (civil) in 2021 and succeeded in getting a declaration that she is not a Muslim.

In today’s court proceedings conducted online, lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla representing Mais argued that the High Court erred in allowing the woman's declaratory application, contending that the High Court's decision was a transgression of Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution.

Article 121 (1A) gives the powers to the Syariah Courts to hear and decide disputes relating to the Islamic religion.

Mohamed Haniff said the woman had previously filed an application in the Syariah Court to leave Islam, adding that her civil suit was an attempt to re-litigate what was decided by the Syariah Court.

Selangor legal adviser Datuk Salim Soib@Hamid representing the state government adopted the submissions made by Mohamed Haniff Khatri.

Lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar representing the woman countered by saying the civil court has the jurisdiction to hear and decide on his client's claim as she never professed the religion of Islam.

He said the High Court was correct to decide that his client was not validly converted to Islam and that her conversion was against the state’s law of conversion at that material time which barred unilateral conversion.

He added that the woman's father was still alive when her mother converted her and the father's consent was never sought. - Bernama