Court dismisses NRD’s application to stay ‘bin Abdullah’ ruling

Lawyer K. Shanmuga said his client will wait for the Federal Court decision on the ruling. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Lawyer K. Shanmuga said his client will wait for the Federal Court decision on the ruling. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — The Court of Appeal threw out today the National Registration Department’s (NRD) application to stay the court’s ruling that granted a Muslim father the right to replace his illegitimate child’s “bin Abdullah” patronym with his own name.

The father’s lawyer, K. Shanmuga, said, however, that his client did not intend to enforce the appellate court’s ruling pending the Federal Court hearing of the NRD’s application for leave to appeal the decision.

“We are going to wait and see what the Federal Court says,” Shanmuga told Malay Mail Online.

When asked if the NRD should, in any other cases, follow the court ruling that allowed Muslim fathers to give their names to their children conceived outside marriage, the lawyer said it should.

NRD director-general Datuk Yazid Ramli previously said his department would continue with the convention of using “Abdullah” as the father’s name in cases of illegitimate Muslim births, pending the outcome of the appeal to the Federal Court.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is the deputy prime minister and home minister, reportedly expressed support for the NRD’s stand, saying the department was carrying out its tasks according to the Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Affairs’ ruling that prohibited illegitimate children from bearing their father’s name.

The Court of Appeal on July 25 released the written judgment of their landmark decision in a lawsuit by a Muslim child and his parents against the NRD that the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 allowed illegitimate children to bear their father’s name, ruling also that a “fatwa” (religious edict) had no force of law. 

The Muslim child in the case was born less than six months from the date of his parents’ marriage and the NRD had stated the child’s patronym as “Abdullah” on the birth certificate, instead of his father’s name.

The NRD had cited the National Fatwa Committee’s 2003 fatwa that an illegitimate child, defined as one conceived out of wedlock or born fewer than six months from the date of the parents’ marriage, could not carry the father’s name. 

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