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Eyes riveted on custody tussle

Rightly or wrongly, many Malaysians are asking if the ‘conversion’ option is just a way for a new Muslim convert to gain custody of the children.

THE legal tussle involving a Muslim-convert father and the Hindu mother with both getting custody orders from two different courts has caught the attention of the nation. How the issue is resolved will have far-reaching implications for Malaysia.

The father, Izwan Abdullah or N.Viran before his conversion to Islam, had obtained a Syariah Court order to keep his son. The mother S. Deepa, on the other hand, has an order from the Civil Court overriding that order.

Here’s the catch – the Federal Constitution clearly states that both the Civil and Syariah courts have equal but separate powers.

Most Malaysians like to think that the civil court is the higher authority, but it is not as straightforward as that. On Islamic religious matters, it is the Syariah court that holds court. However, it is when the issues are not so clear-cut that problems will arise as to either court’s jurisdiction.

But how are the orders to be executed? This is where the police come in, and under the Police Act, our police officers are duty bound to execute orders issued by any “competent authority” and in this case, both courts fit into that interpretation. That has naturally put our police in a spot. More so, in this case, where it involves a father and mother of different faiths, with the child caught in the middle.

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