PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s highest court today granted the National Registration Department (NRD) leave to appeal against a ruling that allowed a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock to carry the father’s name instead of ‘Abdullah’.
According to The Star Online, the three-man Federal Court panel headed by Chief Justice Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif allowed three of the seven questions put forward by the government’s lawyers.
The English news portal reported that the first question was whether in carrying out the registration of Muslim children, the Registrar of Birth and Death may refer to and rely on sources of Islamic Law on legitimacy.
Secondly, whether the civil court may determine questions or matters on legitimacy of Muslim children in respect of naming and ascription of paternity.
And lastly, whether Section 13A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA) applies to the registration of birth for Muslim children allowing the children to be named with a personal name of a person acknowledging himself to be the father of the children.
Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan represented the Government, while lawyer K. Shanmuga represented a couple and their son who filed the judicial review.
On May 25, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal by the couple and their son to compel the NRD director-general to replace the child’s ‘bin Abdullah’ with the name of the child’s father in the birth certificate.
The appellate court, in a written judgment released on July, 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 said the director-general’s jurisdiction was a civil one and was confined to determining whether the child’s parents had fulfilled the requirements under the BDRA, which covers all illegitimate children, Muslim and non-Muslim.
Further, the Court of Appeal 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 BDRA.