Interfaith custody tribunal a good idea, says Nancy Shukri

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KUALA LUMPUR: Law minister Nancy Shukri has welcomed as “a good idea” a suggestion for a tribunal to resolve interfaith custody cases.

“Sometimes you need a third party to give some views,” she told reporters while at the National Aspiration and Leadership Summit here today.

Nancy was responding to a proposal by Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar who proposed that the tribunal comprise judges from both the syariah and civil courts.

Zainul suggested that the tribunal come under the purview of the Conference of Rulers, who would also appoint the tribunal’s chairman. Such a tribunal would ensure both that the views of both civil and syariah legal systems were taken into account and cool down emotions and prejudices on both parties.

The suggestion came after two contentious interfaith custody battles took place in the civil courts involving Hindu mothers and their former husbands who became Muslim converts and also unilaterally converted their children to Islam.

Nancy, who is responsible for legal matters as minister in the prime minister’s department, said she was among those who wanted authorities to act “beyond the law.”

She had been asked to comment on whether the Federal Court had rewarded a wrongdoer by granting Izwan Abdullah custody of his son despite having allegedly abducted the child after the Seremban High Court awarded custody to his wife S Deepa, who is Hindu.

In 2014, the Seremban police refused to investigate Izwan on the grounds that he had obtained custody of his son from the Syariah court.

Nancy said that, as a mother, she wanted authorities to go beyond the law as the welfare of the child was of utmost importance. “Authorities however were restricted and acted within the boundaries of the law.”

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