The Federal Court has set Jan 29 to deliver its verdict in the appeal by kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi (left) over the conversion of her three children to Islam by her Muslim convert ex-husband. NST FILE PIC

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has set Jan 29 to deliver its verdict in the appeal by kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi over the conversion of her three children to Islam by her Muslim convert ex-husband.

The apex court's five-man bench, comprising Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Zainun Ali, Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Tan Sri Ramly Ali had reserved judgment after hearing the appeal in November 2016.

In a text message to Bernama, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan confirmed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers received a notice from the Federal Court registry on Tuesday that the decision would be delivered on Jan 29 at 9am.

Indira Gandhi’s lawyer M. Kulasegaran, also in a text message, confirmed having received a similar notice.

The 42-year-old woman is appealing against the appellate court’s 2-1 majority decision on Dec 30, 2015, to reinstate the conversion certificates of her three children which were nullified by the Ipoh High Court.

The appellate court had ruled that the civil High Court did not have the jurisdiction to decide on the validity of the children's conversion which it said came under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

The court allowed the appeal brought by the Perak Islamic Religious Department director, the Perak government and registrar of converts, the Education Ministry and the Government of Malaysia to set aside the Ipoh High Court ruling that the conversion certificates of the three children were null and void.

The Federal Court, in its appeal proceeding, heard submissions on several issues including whether only a single parent's consent was required to convert a minor to Islam.

Senior federal counsel Dr Arik Sanusi Yeop Johari had submitted that the Federal Court ruling in 2007 in the custody case of R. Subashini vs T. Saravanan had held that a single parent could convert their children to Islam.

However, lawyer Fahri Azzat, for Indira Gandhi, contended that both the father and mother must consent to a child's conversion to Islam before the Perak State Religious Department could register the child's conversion.

The children, two girls and a boy now aged 20, 19, and nine, were converted to Islam by their father Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, 47, formerly known as K. Pathmanathan, in April 2009 without Indira Gandhi's consent after his conversion to Islam. The children were then aged 12 and 11 years, and 11 months. -- BERNAMA

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