Indira Gandhi’s case should have been decided as any other contentious family matter and should have been resolved a long ago. The principle of the best interest of the child should have been applied and custody, care and control of the minor children should have been granted to Indira.
What went wrong? Why is this mother being subjected to such mental anguish and agony? Didn’t she follow the right procedure? After all, she was married under the civil law to Patmanathan and the children were conceived and born during this marriage. The marriage is not viable anymore, due to conversion of one spouse and a dissolution is sought. Dissolution of the marriage and custody should have been given as provided under civil law.
This is exactly what Indira wanted when she filed for her divorce and subsequent custody of her young children. Why was this mother not given the relief she pursued? Why is it so difficult for the courts to decide on this particular family matter when they have the jurisdiction to do so?
The youngest child, a baby girl was only a year old. The two teenage children were at an age where conversion and religion were something totally out of their understanding. Their interests and welfare should have been the utmost priority when deciding the issue of custody. Indira Gandhi as a non-Muslim and a party to a civil marriage rightfully went to the civil courts for remedy. Her rights have been vested to her as a citizen of this country. The recent Court of Appeal decision has decided otherwise. The conversion of one spouse to the marriage and the unilateral conversion of the infant and children have been considered out of context and Indira has been left in the lurch. It appears that Indira, a non-Muslim, has to go to the Syariah courts to seek relief. It is a known fact that non-Muslims cannot file proceedings in the Syariah court, as they have no locus to do so.
Indira has one more attempt to appeal to the Federal Court. The basic principles of law and family have been overlooked just because the issue of conversion has been given priority. Is it going to be another futile attempt for Indira and her lawyers? It is my humble hope that the apex court, where Indira will be appealing next, is more vigilant, righteous and compassionate in their final verdict.
Sumathi SivamanyVice PresidentPerak Women for Women Society (PWW)