Civil courts can hear Muslim custody cases involving converts

Haniff-KhatriSHAH ALAM: The civil court has the power to hear custody cases involving Muslim convert children.

Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla told FMT the Shah Alam High Court made the ruling on Monday in reference to the divorce petition of Lee Chang Yong and Teng Wai Yee.

“Judicial Commissioner Zakiah Kassim announced the decision,” he said.

Haniff is acting for Teng, now known as Aleena Abdullah, in the divorce proceedings. “Teng has not decided if she wants to appeal against the ruling,” he said.

The lawyer raised a preliminary issue, earlier this month, before the divorce hearing. He argued that civil courts have no power to hear custody cases involving Muslim convert children.

“JC Zakiah will proceed to hear the divorce petition, custody, and matrimonial asset division from November 8 to 10 and on December 5,” he said.

He added that Lee had obtained leave to start committal proceedings against Teng. The husband has alleged that his estranged wife breached the consent order by Zakiah on June 6.

Zakiah’s orders were that the upbringing of the two children remains at status quo pending disposal of the divorce.

Further, the parents cannot influence the children on religion. The siblings can stay with both parents, for a week, taking turns.

It was previously reported that Lee, a businessman, found that his wife had unilaterally converted their children in the midst of divorce proceedings.

She had converted to Islam on December 29 last year.

Lee filed a judicial review on June 14 to challenge his children’s unilateral conversion by Teng.

In his affidavit, he claimed she converted the siblings to get custody.

His bid to obtain leave was put on hold by the High Court pending the disposal of a similar case at the Federal Court.

Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi is challenging the unilateral conversion of her children by her ex-husband.