IGP seeks to stay Shariah court order in Seremban child custody drama


(Malay Mail Online) – National police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar is seeking to intervene in the interfaith Seremban child custody battle and has applied to the state Shariah Court to stay its order in favour of the Muslim convert father.

Faced with the conflicting court orders, the inspector-general of police (IGP) through the law firm Messrs Zulkifli Yong Azmi & Co applied yesterday at the Seremban Shariah High Court to be an intervener or a party in the child custody dispute, besides seeking to stay the October 7 recovery order, daily New Straits Times reported yesterday.

According to the IGP’s lawyer Azmi Mohd Rais, the Attorney-General had appointed him and another lawyer Zulkifli Che Yong to act for Khalid in this matter as it was of “public interest”.

“The application is made to seek permission to intervene on pressing need of the issue and the public interest of Malaysia.

“As intervener, we request the Shariah High Court to postpone the implementation of the order obtained Izwan while the issue of constitutional questions concerning the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal is heard and resolved,” Azmi was quoted as saying.

The lawyer also said there is a notice of motion at the Court of Appeals over the interpretation of Section 52 and 53 of the Child Act 2001 and the validity of the order to recover the child.

In the dispute, N. Viran — who now goes by the name Izwan Abdullah after converting from Hinduism to Islam — won custody of his two children in the Shariah courts with his Hindu wife, S. Deepa.

Viran also obtained a recovery order last October 7, which required the police to aid him in locating and recovering his two children.

But his former wife Deepa S. was granted full custody of the two children in the civil courts in April, and had last month received a recovery order that also required the police to track down and recover the son that Izwan had snatched away.

The Seremban Shariah High Court has fixed June 30 to hear the IGP’s application to temporarily suspend the recovery order granted to the child’s father, the IGP’s lawyer said.

On April 7, the Seremban High Court granted Deepa, 30, full custody of the couple’s two children Mithran and Sharmila who were aged six and nine respectively, as her marriage to 31-year-old Izwan in 2004 was a civil union and did not come under Shariah law.

But 48 hours after losing the custody dispute in the civil court, Izwan ― who was earlier granted child custody by the Shariah court ― took their son from his estranged wife’s house in Jelebu, Negri Sembilan.

Khalid has adamantly refused to act on the court orders in interfaith child custody disputes, claiming that the police were “sandwiched” between the civil and Shariah legal systems.

The cases and others like them epitomise the growing conflict arising from Malaysia’s dual legal systems, with the civil courts that apply universally and the Shariah system that only applies to and recognises Muslims.

Yesterday, the AG also said the AG’s Chambers is applying to intervene in Deepa’s case and another high-profile interfaith child custody dispute in Ipoh, adding that these cases may be referred to the Federal Court for a final decision.

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said today that his agency would also seek to stay both civil and Shariah court orders issued to the police in the Ipoh and Seremban cases respectively.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said two weeks ago that those involved in interfaith child custody tussles should seek resolution in the country’s highest court.