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Friday, April 29, 2016

Federal Court orders Ridhuan's arrest over interfaith custody tussle

The Federal Court has instructed the inspector-general of police (Khalid Abu Bakar) to arrest Muslim convert Mohd Ridhuan Abdullah over the highly-watched interfaith custody case.
The five-man bench chaired by Court of Appeal president Md Raus Sharif allowed kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi's appeal to reinstate the mandamus order issued by the High Court in Ipoh compelling inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar to execute the warrant of committal against her former husband, Ridhuan.
The apex court found the committal order against Ridhuan to be justified as he had failed to bring his child, Prasana Diksa, to the jurisdiction of the court.
The highest court in the country directed the Ipoh High Court to monitor the arrest.
Justice Md Raus, who wrote the unanimous decision, also had some harsh words for Ridhuan, who has refused to bring the child to court.
“This kind of conduct cannot be condoned by the court as this brings the administration of justice into disrepute.
“When the case did not turn in his favour, he refused to come to the court's jurisdiction. We are of the view that he must be apprehended and the committal order (for contempt) needs to be executed.
“We order the execution of the warrant of committal, allow the appeal and set aside the majority Court of Appeal decision. We reinstate the minority decision of the Court of Appeal and the Ipoh High Court and we remit the case to the Ipoh High Court judge to monitor the warrant of committal,” Justice Md Raus said.
The other Federal Court judges in the bench were Justices Azahar Mohamed, Zaharah Ibrahim and Aziah Ali. Justice Abdull Hamid Embong who was the second member in the bench, had retired earlier this month.
Justice Md Raus noted that the chronology of this case showed that Ridhuan showed no respect for the court order.
He disobeyed the court order to produce the child and he is subject to contempt and committal order, the judge said.
He said the court disagreed with the (argument of the) government lawyer who defended the IGP's action that this case concerned the private rights of the individual.
“We disagree as this case does not relate to the private rights of the appellant (Indira Gandhi) as this is a challenge to the administration of justice,” Justice Md Raus said.
He said while the court had given Ridhuan all avenues to return the eight-year-old child (Prasana Diksa), he still refused to do so, resulting in him facing contempt proceedings.
Despite the order given by the apex court for the police to arrest Ridhuan, it disagreed with the High Court's order in granting the recovery order to retrieve the child.
This, Justice Md Raus said, followed the decision of the Ipoh Syariah High Court which had granted the custody of the children to the father on Sept 29, 2009.
“When there are two conflicting orders, the civil High Court should not go ahead with giving the recovery order,” he said, citing the recent case of an interfaith custody battle involving S Deepa vs N Viran.
The High Court in Ipoh had granted custody of the three children to Indira Gandhi in March 2010.
Hence, the court found the police acted rightly in not abiding by the civil High Court order due to the conflicting orders.
Hoping for reunion
Controlling her tears, Indira Gandhi said she was glad with the decision and hoped to be reunited with Prasana Diksa.
“I hope this would end soon and I would be able to see my daughter. Just to see my daughter I have to wait for seven years.
“Finally, my dream has come true and I hope to see my daughter as soon as possible. I cannot describe in words my joy in getting back my daughter. I am truly happy,” she said.
Indira Gandhi thanked her lawyers and the media for highlighting her plight.
Meanwhile, her lawyer M Kulasegaran described the decision as a landmark case.
“As a civil servant, he (IGP Khalid) should not question but abide by the order, whether he likes it or not. Now that he is on Twitter and Facebook, he must immediately instruct his officers to arrest Ridhuan (photo),” Kulasegaran said.
“Civil servants should not be interpreters and pre-judge any order."
Kulasegaran added that Ridhuan has been using the same phone number for the past seven years and the police should not take long in arresting him.
“He has contacted Indira Gandhi at times and keeps the same number,” he said.
Lawyer Aston Paiva, who submitted for Indira Gandhi, said Justice Md Raus made an important point as Ridhuan's behaviour could not be tolerated.
“You do not abduct children and run away with them. It's wrong, immoral and illegal... this conduct is against any religion and any law,” he said.
Prasana Diksa was 11 months old when Ridhuan took her away. The teacher has not seen her daughter in eight years.
Eight months have also passed since she turned to the Federal Court to compel Khalid to look for her daughter as she and Ridhuan are embroiled in a custody battle over their three children.
Two other children who are staying with Indira Gandhi – a son and a daughter – are now aged 19 and 18 respectively.
The Federal Court will also hear on May 19 leave to appeal case regarding another matter – that of unilateral conversion of religion.

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