Malaysia Hindu Wins Custody Row With Muslim Spouse

March 11, 2010

Author: Eileen Ng

Source: Connecticut Post

Wire Service: AP



A Malaysian court Thursday granted an ethnic Indian woman custody of her child in a bitter dispute with her Muslim-convert husband, in a ruling that could ease religious minorities' worries about their legal rights.

Malaysia has a two-tier court system for family matters — secular courts for non-Muslims, Shariah, or Islamic, courts for Muslims. But minority Hindus, Christians and Buddhists complain that cases that also involve a member of the country's Muslim majority are usually sent to Shariah courts, where the decisions typically go against the non-Muslims.

On Thursday, the secular High Court overruled a Shariah ruling and ordered that 2-year-old Prasana Diksa be handed back immediately to her mother, M. Indira Gandhi, said her lawyer, M. Kulasegaran.

The fact that the secular court even took the case was a breakthrough and could set a precedent across Malaysia, said another of her lawyers, A. Sivanesan.