Woman fighting against Muslim status goes to Federal Court
Published on: Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Woman fighting against Muslim status goes to Federal Court
The 37-year-old woman wants the Federal Court to determine whether an ‘invalid’ shariah court order can be challenged ‘collaterally’ in the civil courts.
PUTRAJAYA: A woman who was recently reinstated as a Muslim is seeking to set aside a Court of Appeal ruling that favoured the Selangor Islamic religious authority.

In her leave application filed before the Federal Court yesterday, the woman wants the highest court to determine whether an “invalid” shariah court order can be challenged “collaterally” in the civil courts and whether Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution is applicable. The provision touches on civil courts having no jurisdiction in shariah matters.

The 37-year-old also wants the court to rule on whether Section 74(3) of the Administration of Islamic Law Enactment (Selangor) bars the civil courts from deciding on unilateral conversion cases involving children.

Earlier this month, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) won an appeal before the Court of Appeal to reinstate her as a Muslim. Justices Yaacob Sam and Nazlan Ghazali ruled in favour of Mais while Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru dissented.

The woman, who was born in 1986 and who originally professed the Hindu faith, was still a child when she was converted to Islam unilaterally by her mother.

She said her mother had unilaterally converted her in 1991 at the Selangor Islamic religious department’s (Jais) office.

The conversion took place while her parents were in the midst of a divorce, which was finalised in 1992. Her mother went on to marry a Muslim man in 1993, and her father died in an accident three years later.

The woman contended that despite her conversion to Islam, her mother and stepfather allowed her to continue leading life as a Hindu.

The appeals court in its majority ruling held that civil courts were not empowered to hear cases involving the renunciation of religion.

It noted that she had previously filed a suit at the Kuala Lumpur shariah court, seeking a declaration that she was “no longer a Muslim” but that this was rejected. The woman came to the civil court after the shariah court’s decision.

Meanwhile, in the minority judgment, Ravindran said the Selangor enactment applicable at the time clearly stated that a person could only convert to Islam after the age of 18.

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