Constitutional Law & Civil Rights

Federal Court decides Three Judges of Previous Panel to deliver Verdict in "Bin Abdullah"

Date: 18 October 2018; Type: Legal News; Source: Bernama

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 18 (Bernama) - The remaining three judges from the earlier Federal Court five-man bench will deliver its verdict on whether a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock could bear his or her father's surname, instead of "Abdullah". Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, chairing a seven-man bench, decided not to rehear the appeal today since there was sufficient remaining judges to decide the matter.

"We still have a coram of three judges. Let this matter be left to the rest of the remaining members of the panel to deliver the judgment. We do not rehear this matter," he said.

He said three judges from the former panel - Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop and Federal Court judges Tan Sri Aziah Ali and Datuk Sri Balia Yusof Wahi - who had heard the appeal would deliver the judgment by virtue of section 78 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

Section 78 of the Courts of Judicature Act states that judgment could be delivered if at least three judges were still around.

Two other judges from the initial panel were former Chief Justice Tun Raus Sharif, who had submitted his resignation, and Federal Court judge Tan Sri Hasan Lah, who has retired.

Raus had headed the earlier Federal Court five-man bench which heard the appeal on Feb 7 this year and reserved the court's decision.

Malanjum said during the case management on July 27 this year, they thought Balia would have retired, leaving only two judges from the original panel to deliver the decision.

It is learnt that Balia has been given a six-month extension until March next year to remain in office.

All parties did not object to the three judges delivering their decision in the appeal.

Today’s seven-man bench also comprised Justice Ahmad Maarop, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk David Wong Dak Wah and Federal Court judges Balia, Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin and Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh.

On May 25, last year, the Court of Appeal had ruled in favour of a couple and their child who filed a judicial review to compel the NRD director-general to replace the child's surname ‘Abdullah’ with the name of the child's father in the birth certificate.

The Court of Appeal, in a written judgment released on July 25 last year, held that a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock could bear his or her father's surname instead of "Abdullah".

It (the Court of Appeal) said the NRD director-general was not bound by the ‘fatwa’ or religious edict issued by the National Fatwa Committee to decide the surname of a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock.

The court had held that a fatwa had no force of law and could not form the legal basis for the NRD director-general to decide on the surname of an illegitimate child under section 13A (2) of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA).

On Sept 8 last year, the Federal Court granted the NRD, its director-general and the government leave to appeal against the appellate court’s decision.

The Johor Islamic Religious Council is the intervenor in the appeal, Selangor Islamic Religious Council as amicus curiae, while Bar Council and Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PPMM) held a watching brief.

MY Bernama

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