The Court of Appeal today postponed the hearing of an appeal by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and the Selangor Chief Registrar of Muslim Converts against a High Court decision that the unilateral conversion of three children to Islam by their Muslim-convert father was invalid.
A three-member bench comprising justices Suraya Othman, Azizah Nawawi and Hashim Hamzah postponed the appeal and sent the matter for case management.
This was after lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing Mais and the State Registrar of Muslim Converts, told the court that there would be a similar unilateral conversion case before the Federal Court tomorrow where similar issues would be raised.
Lawyer Sa’adiah Din, who acted for the Hindu mother and her three children, did not object to the request for the postponement of the appeal hearing.
Mais and the Selangor State Registrar of Muslim Converts are seeking to reinstate the conversion status of the three children which the High Court had declared invalid.
On Sept 29, 2020, Shah Alam High Court judge Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab allowed the lawsuit brought by the mother to declare that the conversion to Islam of her children, who were then aged 13, 11, and eight, was invalid and that their conversion could not be registered by the Selangor Registrar of Muslim Converts.
The High Court ruled that it was bound by the 2018 Federal Court decision in the conversion case of kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi’s children.
In the Indira Gandhi case, the Federal Court held that the consent of both mother and father was required to change the children’s religion to Islam.
In today’s case before the Court of Appeal, the father brought the three children to a mosque in Selangor in March 2016 where he then converted himself and the children to Islam.
He then brought his children to the Hidayah Centre Foundation in Taman Melawati to fill up the religion conversion forms and to register the children’s conversion to Islam.
Their Hindu mother, who has since divorced the father, claimed she was not consulted on the children’s conversion to Islam.
The children meanwhile claimed that they had not agreed to embrace Islam.
The mother and her children filed the suit in April 2018 against the man, the Selangor Chief Registrar of Muslim Converts, Mais, the Selangor state government and the Malaysian government.
However, the claim against the Selangor government has since been dropped.