PUTRAJAYA, April 29 — The Federal Court ordered the national police chief today to arrest M. Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband for contempt of court over his refusal to hand custody of their youngest child to her in the high-profile child conversion case.
The Federal Court also upheld the initial mandamus order issued by the Ipoh High Court to Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, ordering the court to monitor the procedures to track and to arrest Muslim convert Muhammad Riduan Abdullah following today’s decision.
The four-men bench at the apex court today ruled that the committal order against Muhammad Riduan was justified as he has repeatedly failed to produce the couple’s child — Prasana Diksa, now aged seven — in court.
“Pathmanathan despite having exhausted all avenues with regards to the custody order granted by a civil high court, is now wilfully disobeying the courts, after his application for leave appeal was rejected by this court, he still refused to hand over Prasana Diksa to the appellant,” Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif, who led the bench, said today in the unanimous decision, referring to Muhammad Riduan by his name at birth.
“When he was found guilty for contempt of court with regards to custody order, he appealed to the Court of Appeal, but when his appeal was struck out, he disappeared together with Prasana Diksa.
“The chronology in this case shows that Pathmanathan has no respect for the court’s order, that he willingly submitted himself to the civil court and due process was accorded to him, but when the case didn’t turn out to be in his favour, decided to disobey the court’s order,” he added.
Others in the bench today were Datuk Azahar Mohamed, Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim and Datuk Aziah Ali.
In the written judgment released today, Raus said the IGP’s inaction on the recovery order for Prasana Diksa was excusable as there were conflicting custody orders from the Shariah and civil courts. He added the Ipoh High Court should not have issued the recovery order.
But he said the IGP could not refuse the order to arrest Muhammad Riduan as the duties of police officers are clearly stated in Section 20 (3) of the Police Act 1967.
The Federal Court decision today was on Indira’s appeal to the 2014 Court of Appeal decision that had dismissed the Ipoh High Court’s mandamus order to the IGP to enforce the arrest warrant against Muhammad Riduan and the recovery order to retrieve Prasana. The Ipoh High Court had granted Indira in 2010 full custody of all three children.
Raus also criticised Muhammad Riduan’s conduct and called for action to be taken against him.
“We are of the view that Pathmanathan must be handed to face justice,” he added.
In the long drawn-out child custody battle, Indira won full custody of her three children in the Ipoh High Court in 2010, with the same civil court issuing a recovery order in her favour.
Muhammad Riduan’s bid to appeal against the High Court custody order in favour of Indira was previously dismissed in both the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.
The Ipoh High Court had also previously nullified the 2009 Shariah court order that granted Muhammad Riduan custody of the three children and subsequently issued a mandamus order compelling the IGP to act.
The mandamus order came after the IGP said the police was caught between the conflicting jurisdictions of the civil and Shariah courts that had made opposing child custody orders.
Indira was represented by M. Kulasegaran, who is also Ipoh Barat MP, Aston Paiva and N. Selvam, while the IGP was represented by Senior Federal Counsel Suzana Atan.
Presiding on the panel today were only four judges including Raus, Federal Court judges Datuk Azahar Mohamed, Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim and Datuk Aziah Ali as Justice Tan Sri Abdull Hamid Embong has retired.