A-G and IGP apply to be parties in two interfaith custody disputes


V. Anbalagan, The Malaysian Insider

The Attorney-General and the Inspector-General of Police have applied to the Court of Appeal to intervene in two controversial interfaith custody disputes.

A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the civil courts had exceeded their authority when they issued recovery orders to the police to locate the children of S. Deepa and M. Indira Gandhi, who are with their ex-husbands who had converted to Islam.

Both Gani and Khalid said, if their applications to be interveners were allowed, they want the Court of Appeal to suspend the High Court orders to compel police to locate Muhammad Ridzuan Abdullah and Izwan Abdullah.

The court papers were filed on June 26.

Khalid said he was in a quandary because there were two custody orders, from the High Court and Shariah High Court, and executing one would mean he was showing disrespect to the other. The Shariah courts had granted both fathers custody of the children.

Gani and Khalid said a stay of the orders was vital or else their attempts to appeal would be futile as the status of the High Court and Shariah Court under Article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution had to be determined.

One view is that the civil court is superior to the Shariah Court while another stand is that both are of equal status.

Lawyers K. Shanmuga, who is appearing for Deepa, and N. Selvam, representing Indira, said they had received copies of the court papers from the A-G’s Chambers.

“I will be taking instructions from my client to file an affidavit in reply. We will be contesting the A-G’s and IGP’s applications,” he said.

Selvam said their team of lawyers would meet in anticipation of “serious legal and constitutioal challenges arising from the case now”.

Last week Gani said he was applying to suspend both orders issued as both cases in Seremban and Ipoh have become cases of public interests which touched on religious sensitivities and have the potential to threaten public order.