Police slammed for ignoring court order

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The Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) has slammed the government for taking its time to ‘research’ jurisdictional issues between the civil court and the syariah court, instead of executing an order issued by the High Court in Seremban.

The court stated that Izwan Abdullah, a Muslim convert accused of abducting his son from his Hindu former wife S Deepa, is to surrender the child and for police to enforce this – by force if necessary.

WAO executive committee member Meera Samanther (right) pointed out that the police were dithering on the issue, despite the court instructing them to “execute this order regardless of any syariah court order that gives custody rights to the respondent (Izwan)”.

The High Court order was served on the federal police headquarters at Bukit Aman on May 23. It acknowledged the order but said it has been referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to study the matter.

“I ask you all how much longer do you need to research? Since (the case of) S Shamala in 2004, we have been researching. It does take a mighty long time doesn’t it? To research?

“It has become ridiculous that we have come to this stage, after eight years to research conflicting jurisdiction. It is an embarrassment that we are at this stage,” Meera told a press conference today.

The Seremban High Court had previously awarded custody of Deepa’s and Izwan’s two children to Deepa, while the Seremban Syariah High Court awarded the custody to Izwan.

Izwan previously went by the name N Viran, but reportedly converted himself and the two children to Islam last year without Deepa’s knowledge, and then allegedly attacked Deepa and took one of the children from her home two days after the Seremban High Court awarded her custody.

Izwan claimed that this was done to protect the children’s faith, while Deepa seeks to reverse the conversion.

Meanwhile, Deepa told reporters that she hasn’t heard from her six-year old son for 50 days and is saddened by this.

“Usually if there is a fight or anything, the police would ask for a court order. Now I have both court orders (recovery order and custody order) in my hands.

“I hope that my son will be returned to me because despite having the custody rights, I have yet to see my son. I want to see how Malaysian law will return my son to me,” she said between sobs.

Deepa’s lawyer Joanne Leong added that Izwan has already been told via his lawyers to surrender custody of the son by noon today, but has yet to receive any response as of 2.45pm.

She says she has been instructed to ‘expedite’ the matter if the situation continues, which could possibly include contempt of court proceedings against both Izwan and the police.

Amend ‘loopholes’, urges WAO

Meanwhile, Meera reiterated WAO’s urging to amend ‘loopholes’ in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act, Islamic Family Law Act and Administration of Islamic Law Act, in order to protect the rights of spouses in event of a unilateral conversion.

She said the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) – of which WAO is a member – has already submitted a memorandum to the government spelling out the necessary amendments.

“It is crucial to note that we are not asking for the introduction of new rights. These are simple existing rights that need to be upheld and safeguarded,” she said.

She also urged members for the public to pressure to write in and pressure the police and the attorney-general to act.