PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal yesterday rejected the application brought by the National Registration Department (NRD) and two others for a stay of the appellate court ruling to allow a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock to take the name of his father.
Lawyer Nizam Bashir, representing the couple and the child in the case, said a three-man bench led by Justice Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat unanimously dismissed the stay application on grounds that there was no special circumstances to allow the stay.
Presiding with her were Justices Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli and Puan Sri Zaleha Yusof.
Senior federal counsel Mazlifah Ayob, representing the NRD, its director-general and the government of Malaysia had applied to the court for a stay of the appellate court’s decision delivered on May 25 this year, pending disposal of their leave to appeal at the Federal Court.
In the court’s written judgment released on July 25, this year, Abdul Rahman said the NRD director-general was not bound by the fatwa or religious edict issued by the National Fatwa Committee to decide the name of the father of a Muslim child conceived out of wedlock.
On May 25, the same panel had allowed the appeal brought by the couple who filed a judicial review to compel the NRD director-general to replace their child’s surname “Abdullah” with the name of the child’s father in the birth certificate.
In the judgment, Abdul Rahman 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 Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 (BDRA), which covers all illegitimate children, Muslim and non-Muslim.
Abdul Rahman had held that a fatwa has 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.
Nizam, when contacted by Bernama, said the Court of Appeal noted that the applicants’ application for leave to appeal would not be rendered nugatory and a stay was not necessary as the NRD was able to undo any registration or correction that it effected pursuant to the Court of Appeal ruling.
“We inform the court that we would not enforce the Court of Appeal ruling for the time being until disposal of the leave to appeal or proceedings at the Federal Court,” he said, adding that the court made no order on costs. – Bernama