Friday, November 11, 2016

No nine-member bench for Indira Gandhi's appeal

    Hafiz Yatim     Published    

A request for a nine-member Federal Court bench to hear the M Indira Gandhi's legal challenge against the unilateral conversion of her children to Islam has been turned down.

Her lawyer M Kulasegaran said this was communicated to him by a Federal Court officer on Wednesday.

"The letter dated Nov 8 simply states that Indira Gandhi's application for an enlarged bench with nine judges is not approved," he said.

The officer told the lawyer that he was instructed by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria to disclose this.

Thus far, there has not been any instance where more than seven judges heard a case at the Federal Court.

A seven-member panel was convened to hear the appeal by the Roman Catholic Church in its suit against the Home Ministry on the rights to publish the term 'Allah'.

It remains unclear how many judges would be on the panel when the Indira Gandhi's appeal is heard on Monday.

Critical case

Indira Gandhi's lawyers had requested a nine-member bench in August because the case may have a bearing on other unilateral conversion cases.
Indira Gandhi, 41, has been locked in a protracted legal battle with her former husband K Pathmanathan @ Muhammad Ridhuan Abdullah over custody of their three children.
Muhammad Ridhuan had embraced Islam and converted the three children without Indira Ghandhi's knowledge in 2008.

Her youngest child Prasana Diksa @ Ummu Habiba, then 11-month-old, was taken from her by Muhammad Ridhuan in 2009.

The Ipoh High Court had ruled that the conversion of Indira Gandhi's three children were null and void, but this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal in a 2-1 decision in December last year.

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