PETALING JAYA: The national registration department (NRD) will be able to continue its practice of using the surname “Abdullah” to register Muslim babies if the child is born within six months after its parents were married.
This was the result of the Federal Court today putting a stay on the order by the Court of Appeal last month, which had ruled that the NRD had been acting outside its powers in carrying out such a practice.
The apex court decided to stay the order, pending a bid by the Johor Islamic Religious Council to intervene in the NRD’s appeal against the lower court’s decision in favour of the couple, who are from Johor.
However, the three-man panel of judges, led by Chief Justice Raus Sharif, struck out the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council’s (Maiwp) bid to intervene and made them as “amicus curie” (friends of the court), to assist in proceedings if needed.
Speaking to FMT, lawyer Nizam Bashir said no reason was given by the judges.
“Initially the family objected, but essentially the court allowed it without hearing the objection,” said Nizam, who is representing the Johor couple and their son.
Last month, the Court of Appeal said the NRD had acted outside its powers when it used the surname “Abdullah” to register a Muslim baby born within six months of the parents’ marriage, despite the mother’s wish to use her husband’s name.
The written judgment also questioned the practice of adding the surname “bin Abdullah” to such children.
Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli of the Court of Appeal, said the NRD director-general had acted irrationally when it registered the child with the surname “Abdullah” in the birth certificate, against the wishes of the mother.
He also said the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA) makes no distinction between a Muslim child and a non-Muslim child.
The child was born on April 17, 2010, five months and 27 days after the couple tied the knot on Oct 24, 2009. This, according to the Islamic lunar calendar, was short of three days before the six month period to legitimise the birth to the couple.
The judicial review was filed on Sept 3, 2015 and the High Court dismissed the application on Aug 4 last year.
The NRD had refused the parents’ request to use the father’s names in the birth certificate, based on a 1981 fatwa.