Apex court denies religious agencies’ appeal to restore 5 children’s Muslim status

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The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) and Muallaf Department were today denied their appeal to restore the Muslim status of five children, who were converted to Islam by the unilateral decision of the father.

The children’s religious conversion was invalidated in 2020 by the Shah Alam High Court after a legal battle initiated by their mother.

A Federal Court bench, chaired by Chief Judge Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, today unanimously dismissed the religious authorities’ application to appeal the High Court decision.

In the mother’s court claims, she said she had not consented to her children’s conversion to Islam, thus rendering it invalid. She asked for precedent to be applied, referring to the case of Indira Gandhi, who successfully sued for her children to be declared non-Muslim following their conversion to Islam by their father.

A landmark Federal Court ruling on Indira’s case in 2018 held that the consent of both parents was required for the religious conversion of their children if the parents were not Muslim when they married.

In today’s case, only the father had converted to Islam, in 2018, after marriage. At the same time, he also had the five children converted without the mother’s knowledge and consent.

The mother was only notified of the children’s Muslim status nearly a year later by Mais. The couple subsequently divorced.

Judge Tengku Maimun today said the appeal application of Mais and Selangor Muallaf Department was dismissed as the same court had already decided on the issue of unilateral conversion of children in the Indira Gandhi case.

She ordered the two religious agencies to pay RM30,000 in costs.

The two Selangor authorities are involved in another case of child conversion, which is currently being heard in the Court of Appeal. – TMI