PETALING JAYA: The civil courts can hear paternity disputes involving Muslims, a High Court judge said.
Justice Abazafree Abbas said the paternity of a child should be distinguished from issues of legitimacy and lineage.
He said the legitimacy and lineage of Muslim children were matters which come within the purview of the shariah courts as they are matters of family law.
“Legitimacy is the legal status of a child born to married parents, while paternity is the legal recognition of a man as the father.
“In the court’s view, it (paternity) is not within the exclusive jurisdiction of the shariah courts,” Abazafree said in a judgment handed down in a lawsuit brought by a woman and her three-year-old son against a man in the Kota Bharu High Court.
The child was born out of wedlock to the 26-year-old woman in 2020.
The woman persuaded the 24-year-old man to take a DNA test last year, and the result confirmed him to be the boy’s biological father.
However, the man refused to acknowledge the test results, prompting the woman to file an application seeking a declaration by the court regarding the boy’s paternity.
Abazafree said the boy has the right to know who his father is.
“The child might not be entitled to his father’s inheritance (under Islamic law) but the fact (of his paternity) cannot be kept a secret,” he said.
Lawyer Adly Zulfadhly Zulkefly, representing the mother, told FMT the father had filed an appeal against the High Court ruling.