KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — The Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) today cancelled its bid to stay the High Court’s December 2021 declaration that a 35-year-old Selangor woman was not Muslim after her mother converted her as a child without her father’s consent.

Today was initially set to be the hearing of the council’s application before High Court judge Choo Kah Sing via the video-conferencing, but the woman’s lawyer Surendra Ananth confirmed that Mais decided in court not to pursue the stay application.

"They withdrew their application today with no order as to cost,” Surendra told Malay Mail when contacted following the court proceedings before the judge.

The woman is identified only as D in order to protect her privacy, and has spent the past eight years in the courts trying to seek a declaration that she was not Muslim, for her bid to have the word “Islam” removed from her identity card.

While D finally succeeded last December in the civil High Court in Shah Alam to get a declaration that she is not a person professing the religion of Islam, both Mais and the Selangor state government appealed this January to the Court of Appeal against the High Court decision in her favour.

In the stay application filed on March 17 and discontinued today, Mais had sought to have the High Court’s December 2021 decision stayed — or temporarily suspended from taking effect — until the Court of Appeal decides on appeals.

Previously in April, Surendra had confirmed that D tried to ask for the National Registration Department (NRD) to reissue her IC without the label “Islam” and without the word “Binti” following the High Court decision, but had said that the NRD decided not to do so as there are pending appeals.

Today, Surendra confirmed that the status quo remains unchanged, noting: “NRD decided not to change and to wait for appeal”.

This means that D’s identity card currently still identifies her as a Muslim via the word “Islam”.

The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear the two appeals by Mais and the Selangor government on September 13.

Eight years of court bids to have IC reflect non-Muslim status

D was born in November 1986 to a non-Muslim couple married under civil laws but with her parents separated in 1991, with her Buddhist mother in May 1991 converting herself and then four-year-old D to Islam.

The mother had said she was told by a Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) officer that D would have to be converted to Islam to ensure that she has continued custody of the child, adding that the officer had also said D would be able to choose her religion once she turned 18.

The mother said she uttered the Kalimah Syahadah twice — or the declaration of belief for Islam — adding that her child D did not utter this and was unaware and did not understand what was happening.

Just months before she turned seven, Jais in 1993 issued D a conversion card recording her purported 1991 conversion to Islam, with this card keeping D’s original name but replacing her father’s name with the words “binti Abdullah” (commonly given in Malaysia for situations such as converted Muslims).

The mother’s divorce with D’s father was finalised in 1992, and the High Court also granted the mother care and custody of the child. D then continued living with her mother, including after the mother married a Muslim man in 1993.

The mother said she did not inform D’s father about the child’s purported conversion and that he died in 1996, also telling the court in the affidavit that D continued to practise the Hindu religion and did not practise or profess the religion of Islam while staying with the mother.

Around 2011 which was when she was already an adult, D applied to remove the label “Islam” on her identity card as she never professed the religion of Islam, but the NRD rejected this application.

In December 2013, D filed a lawsuit in the Shariah High Court in Kuala Lumpur to seek a declaration that she is not a Muslim, but this court in July 2017 rejected her application and gave the opinion that she is clearly a Muslim based on her identity documents stating her religion as Islam and as her name is commonly used by Muslims.

D then filed an appeal on August 1, 2017 to the Shariah Court of Appeal — which dismissed her appeal more than three years later on January 12, 2021.

On May 10, 2021, D filed a lawsuit via originating summons in the civil High Court in Shah Alam against Mais and the Selangor state government, seeking for a declaration that she is not a person professing the religion of Islam.

On December 21, 2021, the High Court in Shah Alam granted D’s application for a declaration that she is not a person professing the religion of Islam, ruling that D’s conversion to Islam in 1991 was invalid and unlawful as it went against the Selangor state law (applicable at that time) which said children cannot be converted to Islam.

The High Court said it found that D “was not validly converted to Islam, and therefore, she could not be a person professing the religion of Islam despite being erroneously identified as a convert-Muslim for so many years”.