Muslims cannot be involved in non-Muslim marriage disputes, rules court

The Court of Appeal did not not provide the grounds for its decision to overturn the High Court ruling. (AFP pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal here today ruled that a Muslim cannot be made a party in a matrimonial dispute involving non-Muslim couples.

A three-member bench chaired by Kamardin Hashim said this in setting aside a High Court ruling last year that Muslims could be included as co-respondents in a petition for judicial separation.

“There is merit in the appeal,” said Kamardin who did not provide the grounds to overrule the ruling.

The identities of the parties involved were withheld as provided in the High Court ruling.

In July last year, AJS filed for separation against her husband, known as RIS, who was represented by Foo Yet Ngo and Kiran Dhaliwal.

AJS also included JBMH, a Muslim woman, as co-respondent, as she was said to be having an affair with RIS.

JBMH then filed an application to remove her name on the basis that the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (LRA) did not apply to Muslims.

High Court judge Faizah Jamaluddin dismissed the application in November.

Today, Siew Choon Jern, who appeared for JBMH, told the court Section 3 (3) of the LRA was clear that it excluded Muslims.

“It is a blanket exclusion. The only exception is in relation to Muslim converts who had civil marriages,” Siew said.

Ravi Nekoo, who represented AJS, said the court had to look into the legislative intent of Section 3 (3).

“Parliament would not have given a cloak of immunity to a Muslim who wrecks the marriage of non-Muslim couples and allow them to get away with it,” he said.

Foo urged Kamardin to provide a written judgment as the High Court ruling had been overruled and that it was an important development in law.

Meanwhile, Ravi said he would consult with his client whether to file an appeal in the Federal Court.

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