PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal will deliver its judgment on Nov 28 in an appeal by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) seeking to reinstate a 36-year-old woman as a Muslim.
The woman, who originally professed the Hindu faith, was still a child when she was converted to Islam unilaterally by her mother.
Judge Yaacob Md Sam, who chaired the panel, fixed the date after hearing oral submissions from lawyers Haniff Khatri Abdulla, representing Mais, and Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who acted for the woman.
State legal adviser Salim Soib @ Hamid appeared for the Selangor government, which was named a co-appellant.
The other judges who heard Mais’ appeal were Ravinthran Paramaguru and Nazlan Ghazali.
The woman, born in 1986, said her mother had unilaterally converted her in 1991 at the Selangor Islamic religious department’s (Jais) office.
The conversion took place while her parents were in the midst of a divorce, which was finalised in 1992.
Her mother went on to marry a Muslim man in 1993, and her father died in an accident three years later.
The woman contended that, despite her conversion into Islam, her mother and stepfather allowed her to continue practising the Hindu faith, which she had been born into.
She also claimed not to have uttered the “kalimah shahadah” (affirmation of faith) at the time of her conversion into Islam.
Instead, she continued to frequent Hindu temples and celebrate Hindu religious festivals with her father’s relatives.
In 2013, the woman filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur shariah high court seeking to renounce Islam. Her application was dismissed in 2017. The shariah court also ordered her to attend a “series of counselling/faith consultation” sessions.
The shariah appeals court upheld that ruling.
In 2021, she filed a civil suit in the Shah Alam High Court, seeking a declaration that she was not a Muslim. The court granted the declaration last December.
Earlier today, Haniff told the Court of Appeal that the High Court had erred in granting the declaration, adding that the lower court’s decision was a “clear transgression of Article 121(1A) of Federal Constitution”.
He said the constitution gave the shariah courts the sole power to determine disputes relating to religion.
He pointed out that the shariah court had dismissed the woman’s bid to leave Islam. This civil suit was merely an attempt to re-litigate the matter, he said.
Opposing the appeal, Malik said the woman’s conversion into Islam was a nullity as the Selangor enactment in force at the time barred unilateral conversion.
He said the woman’s father was still alive when her mother converted her, but his consent was never sought.