PUTRAJAYA, May 14 — The Federal Court today affirmed the Court of Appeal’s ruling in favour of Hindu mother Loh Siew Hong over the unilateral conversion of her Hindu children to Islam by their Muslim convert father, bringing an end to Loh’s years-long legal battle to have their conversion declared unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who chaired the Federal Court’s three-judge panel, delivered the unanimous decision alongside Federal Court judges Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan and Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

“Dismissed, we make no order as to cost,” Tengku Maimun said.

Today’s decision follows a hearing by the apex court on a leave application filed by the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MAIPs) and the Perlis government regarding the religious position of the three children in their case against Loh as decided by the Court of Appeal.


At the Federal Court stage, the Federal Court’s leave must be obtained first before it proceeds to hear an appeal.

With the leave application filed by MAIPs and the Perlis government now dismissed, the Court of Appeal’s January verdict — in affirming Loh’s children were unilaterally and unconstitutionally converted — will be taken as the final decision.

As for today’s verdict, Tengku Maimun said the present appeal concerns issues which have been covered in the Federal Court’s decision in M. Indira Gandhi’s case — that unilateral conversion is invalid — and thus saw no reason to revisit them.


“This is our unanimous decision. As considered by learned counsel of the applicant, this application essentially seeks to revisit Indira Gandhi,” she said.

She also said the lower courts have also made concurrent findings on the issue of whether there is a prescription of the Bahasa Melayu version of the Federal Constitution being the authoritative text.

“With respect to the first ground, Article 160 (a) is not the relevant provision. The relevant provision is in fact Article 160 (b) which specifies when Bahasa Malaysia text may become the authoritative text. Counsel did not address us on Article 160 (b).

“The courts below made a concurrent finding on this issue. We see no reason why this issue needs to be ventilated further in the Federal Court.

“We are unable to accept that the decision in Indira Gandhi is confined to Wilayah Persekutuan as the Federal Court judgement in Indira Gandhi is binding throughout the nation.

“On the whole, we disagree with the applicant that the judgment in Indira Gandhi was made per incuriam (through lack of care),” she said.

Fact of the case

The Court of Appeal had on January 10 this year allowed Loh’s appeal against the conversion of her three children to Islam without her consent, overturning an earlier High Court decision in May 2023 that had dismissed her challenge.

Subsequently, the four respondents — the Perlis registrar of Muslim converts, MAIPs, the Perlis mufti and the Perlis state government — filed an appeal on the appellate court’s decision on February 8.

As for the January 10 decision, Court of Appeal judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail who chaired a three-man panel, had in a unanimous decision ruled that a Perlis state law provision that allows conversion of children to Islam with just one parent’s consent is unconstitutional.

In the decision, the Court of Appeal also granted all nine orders that Loh asked for in her legal challenge against her children’s unilateral conversion to Islam, including declaring the three children are adherents of Hinduism.

The other nine court orders that Loh won include an order to quash the July 7, 2020 certificates of conversion to Islam which were issued to the three children; an order to compel the Perlis Registrar of Mualaf to remove the three children’s names from the Perlis registry of Muslim converts; and a declaration that Section 117(b) of a Perlis state law (which allows children to be converted without both parents’ consent) is unconstitutional and invalid.

Most importantly, the appellate court also made it clear that the Federal Court’s decision in M. Indira Gandhi’s case — that unilateral conversion is invalid — is still a binding decision on the lower courts, and said Loh did not consent to her three children to become Muslim converts.

This means that the Court of Appeal has declared the current Section 117(b) — which allows children to be converted to Islam without getting both parents’ consent — is against the Federal Constitution.

Read here for a quick summary of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, the background of the case and what parties have argued in the case that was appealed to the Federal Court today.