Malaysia

High Court overrides Shariah Court, orders custody of Muslim children to their Hindu mother

The High Court in Seremban today ordered that custody of  two children who were converted to Islam be given to their Hindu mother.

Judge Datuk Zabariah Mohd allowed the custody application by S. Deepa in chambers.

Zabariah also allowed Deepa's application to dissolve her civil marriage as the husband Izwan Abdullah had converted to Islam.

The High Court decision overrides a Shariah Court order early last year that granted custody of the children to Izwan who became a Muslim in April last year.

Izwan's lawyer Muhammad Faiz Fadzil told reporters that the judge made it clear Deepa's application was allowed as the civil court had jurisdiction over the matter and provide the relief for custody and dissolution of the couple's marriage.

He said the court has ordered the father limited visitation but not an overnight stay.

Faiz said he had instruction to appeal against the decision in the Court of Appeal.

It is better for me to return to drinking - Izwan Abdullah

In December last year, Deepa filed an application to obtain custody of the chidren who were converted by the husand after he embraced Islam in 2011 and to quash the custody order by the Shariah Court.

The 30-year-old clerk from Jelebu said her lorry-driver husband N. Viran, 30, left her and her children three years ago and never supported them financially.

He is said to have become a Muslim subsequently.

She then found out that their children - Sharmila (Nurul Nabila), 9, and Mithran (Nabil), 6, had been converted into Islam without her knowledge by her husband in April last year.

On April 4, she went to the kindergarten to pick up Mithran but he was not there and was told that her husband had taken him away.

"Coincidently I went to Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Negeri Sembilan in Paroi to collect the confirmation letter of Viran's conversion into Islam to submit to the court for a divorce.

"I was shocked to see Mithran and Sharmila with my husband at Pusat Dakwah Islamiah Negeri Sembilan," she added.

She then found out that he had converted Sharmila and Mithran without her knowledge and permission and the Shariah Court had given him custody of the children.

She also lodged a police report as the conversion of the children was against the law.

Deepa said the court had given her justice as the chidren would be now under her care and supervision.

"I am happy that my ex-husband did not resist when he was told to hand over the children following the court ruling," she said.

When both chidren were under his custody, she was allowed to visit them once every two weeks.

Deepa, who was assisted by Women's Aid Oganisation in her legal battle, said she has to file another application to obtain a declaration that the conversion of the minor by a parent was illegal and unconstitutional.

"It is not going to be easy but I  am prepared to face whatever that comes along my way," she added.

A visibly upset Izwan cursed the court ruling and said "it is better for me to return to drinking". – April 7, 2014.

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