Can parent convert kids without consent? Malaysian court to decide


Kuala Lumpur : Does a parent have the right to convert children without the consent of the spouse? That’s the question posed by a woman, whose husband converted to Islam, before Malaysia’s Federal Court.

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The lawyer of the woman, whose husband was a Hindu before his conversion, argued before the court Monday that “it is about family life”.

“She wants the Federal Court to decide whether it is constitutional for one parent to unilaterally convert the religion of the children in a marriage. That is a very fundamental question and it is an opportunity for the apex court to make a conclusive finding on this.”

The case pertains to the conversion of Hindu doctor, M. Jeyaganesh Mogarajah, to Islam in 2002 after which he had the sons converted. This is contested by his wife, S. Shamala, who is in Australia with the sons.

Following a plea from Mogarajah, the Federal Court will also determine whether a Hindu woman has a right to be heard in the apex court after she is alleged to have breached visitation rights given to her husband over their two sons.

Shamala failed to bring the children to Malaysia so that Mogarajah could have access to them, thus breaching an interim access order dated April 17, 2003, said Mogarajah’s lawyer Muralee Menon.

The children – Saktiwaran, 10 and Theiviswaran, 9 – were born before Mogarajah embraced Islam in 2002. Days after his own conversion, he converted the boys to Islam, The Star newspaper said Tuesday.