KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said today that he and his fellow judges at the Federal Court panel, who had unanimously nullified the unilateral conversion of M. Indira Gandhi’s three children to Islam, were not swayed by their own religious convictions and sentiment.
The judge said he was reminded of former Lord President Tun Mohamed Suffian Hashim’s remarks in his Braddel Memorial Lecture in 1982 when speaking about the Malaysian judiciary to a Singapore audience.
“In a multi-racial and multi religious society like yours and mine, while we judges cannot help being Malay or Chinese or Indian; or being Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever, we strive not to be too identified with any particular race or religion — so that nobody reading our judgement with our name deleted could with confidence identify our race or religion, and so that the various communities, especially minority communities, are assured that we will not allow their rights to be trampled underfoot,” Zulkefli quoted Suffian as saying.
“It may be so that looking at the issue purely from the viewpoint of the Shariah law and its precepts, that the decision may lean in favour of the party who argues from that perspective of the law.
“In the present case in upholding the rule of law we have to decide on the issue strictly on the basis of the relevant laws, case authorities and the provisions of both the State and the Federal Constitution governing the particular issue,” Zulkefli added.
He also said he wholly agreed with the views expressed in the case judgment drafted by Federal Court judge Tan Sri Zainun Ali.
In a landmark ruling today, 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.
The judges in the five-member panel at the Federal Court that decided Indira’s case were Zulkefli, Zainun, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, and Federal Court judges Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Tan Sri Ramly Haji Ali.