Bar: Indira’s ruling not against Islam’s status, but Ummah free to challenge

By Jerry Choong

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — The Malaysian Bar stressed today that the Federal Court’s landmark decision on M. Indira Gandhi’s case was correct and does not contravene the status of Islam as the religion of the federation.

Bar president George Varughese however said any organisation is free to file a judicial review against the Federal Court’s decision, after Muslim coalition Ummah announced its intention to do so.

“But that does not mean the decision was wrong, as the Federal Court’s reasoning and grounds given have been commented upon and appreciated not only by the lawyers in practice but also people from academia and also the judiciary itself.

“The decision gave precedence to the Federal Constitution and also takes into account the welfare of the children, in coming to that decision,” he said during the opening of the bar’s new building here today.

Ummah said recently that it will be filing a judicial review to challenge the watershed ruling by the country’s apex court.

Its secretariat chief Aminuddin Yahaya reportedly said the decision should be reviewed since it is not in accordance to Islam’s constitutional status, and that it had provided power to the civil courts to intervene in matters related to Shariah courts.

Varughese insisted the decision does not change the fact that Islam is the religion of the federation, as stipulated in Article 3 of the Federal Constitution.

“It will not in any way have something to that effect, as it is already provided for in the Constitution,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Court voided the conversion of Hindu mother Indira’s three children that was done by her Muslim convert ex-husband without her consent.

The apex court had also ruled that the consent of both parents is needed to convert a minor, saying that the Federal Constitution clearly stated so.

At the event today, the Malaysian Bar obtained its new premises, formerly Wisma Straits Trading after two and a half years of negotiations.

A total of RM55 million was contributed by the bar’s members in the purchase of the building named Wisma Badan Peguam Malaysia.