Thursday, May 14, 2009

Indra's conversion case at the High Court of Ipoh

Background on Indira's case “ Indria was married to Patmanathan at the civil registry of Ipoh on 10thApril 1993. And they have 3 children. They are all Hindus and the children were brought up as Hindus too. On 11thMarch09 Patmanathan converted to Islam. On 2nd April09 he converted his children into Islam.
Court Proceedings to day

To day the conversion case of Indira Gandhi came up for Hearing at the Ipoh High Court. The case was supposed to start at 10.30am but it only took off at nearly 12pm.
From early morning both sides of the lawyers met to discuss and agree on certain terms for the Children of the family pending a formal decision by the court.

The lawyers were called into the Chambers of the Judge Dato Wan Afrah who sounded very displeased that no settlement has been reached otherwise the case could have been proceeded in the morning at 10.30am. The Judge, correctly disallowed an application for an adjournment to the afternoon. She insisted either, parties settle or the case is to proceed. Indria’s lawyers had earlier agreed to the proposal for arrangement of the children of the family. Unfortunately the husband’s lawyers were unable to get instructions and we were not able to agree to present our agreement to the Judge. She gave us 15 minutes to come up with proposals failing which we are to proceed.

Finally the husband’s lawyers were able to get their clients to agree to the terms and we duly informed the Judge.
The agreement contains basically among other matters to maintain the status quo and the children of the family shall attend school.

Cabinet Directive on conversion matter

Prime Minister DS Najib’s cabinet made a directive that children should be raised in the religion at the time of their parent’ marriage, even if one later converted to another religion.

The above directive is nothing more then an advice with no legal force. The directive by the cabinet was made on an ad hoc basis without out ling a long term solution to the conversion cases.
In the Indria’s type of conversion cases the cabinets decision has not been taken into account or considered as it’s just an advice.
What is needed is the political will of those who are administrating the country to synchronize and coordinate all laws to conform in line with the cabinet directive.

I spoke to the Law Minister last week asking him to table the necessary amendments to comply with the Cabinets decision in the coming June sitting of Parliament. He said it may not be possible in view of constrain of time.

But I am given to understand that the Attorney General Chambers have done a lot of work on this matter and they have got a draft way back 3 years ago. But shear inertia and lack of a political will have only resulted in dust been collected on the work done by the AG chambers.

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