KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur shariah bar council has applied to be made a party in a lawsuit by 14 plaintiffs to declare state laws allowing the unilateral conversion of children into the Islamic faith illegal.
Rajesh Nagarajan, who is representing the plaintiffs, said an application to intervene was filed late last month but was only known today during a case management before High Court senior assistant registrar Hafizul Awang.
Nini Shirma Rahmat appeared for the proposed intervener.
Rajesh said Hafizul instructed the shariah bar council to serve cause papers on the plaintiffs’ lawyers for them to respond.
“However, I have been instructed by my clients (plaintiffs) to vigorously oppose the (shariah lawyers’) presence as the subject matter involves constitutional issues,” he told FMT.
Hafizul fixed another case management for May 8 to give the two parties further direction.
Rajesh also said the plaintiff’s application for leave to cite five officers of the Kota Tinggi Islamic department for contempt of court had been adjourned to May 17.
The ex parte application filed in the High Court here in mid-April claimed the officers had harassed one of the plaintiffs, Aisyah Ali, after the case was made public last month.
“Their action is an obstruction of the due course of justice and shows disrespect to the country,” the plaintiffs had said in the court filing.
Aisyah lodged a police report for alleged harassment by the officers soon after the incident on March 29.
Earlier, on March 3, the 14 plaintiffs filed a legal challenge against seven state governments and the federal government to nullify state laws allowing the conversion of children into Islam without the consent of both parents.
The plaintiffs include Hindu mother M Indira Gandhi who, on Jan 29, 2018, successfully got the Federal Court to nullify the unilateral conversion of her three children to Islam by ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.
The group of plaintiffs includes former chairman of the Malaysia Hindu Sangam S Mohan and the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.
Also among them is Arun Dorasamy from the NGO Hindu Agamam Ani. He is also the chairman of the Indira Gandhi action team.
The remaining plaintiffs are individuals who reside in Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and Kuala Lumpur.
They named the state governments of Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and the federal government as defendants.
The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that unilateral conversions are unconstitutional and in breach of Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution.