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CASES OF THE WEEK

CIVIL PROCEDURE: Jurisdiction - High Court - Interpretation of art. 121(1A) Federal Constitution - Whether subject matter must come within purview of Syariah Courts - Whether a non-muslim applicant had no locus to appear in Syariah Courts - Whether jurisdiction to determine constitutionality of matters fall within purview of High Court and not Syariah Court

ISLAMIC LAW: Conversion - Conversion of minor children to Islam - Whether conversion to Islam of minor children by converted parent without consent of non-converted parent unconstitutional, null and void - Whether s. 96(1) of Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004 concerning requirements for valid conversion complied with - Whether conversion breached art. 11 of Federal Constitution and rules of natural justice


INDIRA GANDHI MUTHO v. PENGARAH JABATAN AGAMA ISLAM PERAK & ORS
HIGH COURT MALAYA, IPOH
LEE SWEE SENG JC
[JUDICIAL REVIEW NO: 25-10-2009]
25 JULY 2013

Sixteen years after the applicant's marriage to the sixth respondent, the latter embraced Islam and, without her consent, converted their three children (`the children') aged 12 years, 11 years and 11 months, to Islam. On discovering that the first respondent had issued certificates of conversion to Islam (`the certificates') for the children and that the Syariah High Court had granted care, control and custody of the children to the sixth respondent, the applicant brought the instant judicial review application to (i) quash the certificates for non-compliance with ss. 99, 100 and 101 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004 (`the Enactment'); (ii) prohibit the second respondent and his servants/agents from registering or causing to be registered the children as Muslims or Muallaf under the Enactment; (iii) further or alternatively, declare the certificates to be null and void for breaching s. 106(b) of the Enactment and/or ss. 5 and 11 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961 and/or art. 12(4) read with art. 8(2) of the Federal Constitution; and (iv) further or alternatively, declare that the children had not been converted to Islam in accordance with the law. A preliminary objection was taken by the respondents at the outset of the hearing that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter as the subject-matter was within the purview and province of the Syariah Court. Section 96(1) of the Enactment provided that for a person's conversion to Islam to be valid (a) the person must utter in reasonably intelligible Arabic the two clauses of the affirmation of faith; (b) at the time of uttering the two clauses of the affirmation of faith, the person must be aware that they mean "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and I bear witness that the Prophet Muhammad SAW is the Messenger of Allah"; and (c) the utterance must be made of the person's own free will. Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution stated that the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian.

Held (dismissing preliminary objection as to court's jurisdiction; declaring that the children had not been converted to Islam in accordance with the law and quashing the respective certificates of conversion):

(1) The certificates of conversion were null and void and of no effect for non-compliance with s. 96 of the Enactment. It was not disputed that the children were not present before the converting authority and, in any case, did not utter the two clauses of the affirmation of faith. The children were with the applicant at the material time. (paras 71, 78 & 79)

(2) The sixth respondent's argument that under s. 101(2) of the Enactment, the certificate was conclusive proof of the facts stated therein was untenable. Such a clause could not oust the jurisdiction of the court, more so when there was patent non-compliance with the provision of the Enactment in ss. 98 and 106. The certificate was only an evidentiary tool. As it was not disputed that the children were not before the converting authority and could not have uttered the two clauses of the affirmation of faith, the very conclusiveness of the certificates was open to challenge. (para 77)

(3) The conversion of the children without the applicant's consent not only violated art. 11 of the Federal Constitution but also international norms and conventions. For the applicant not to be able to teach her children the tenets of her faith was to deprive her further of her constitutional rights under arts. 5(1) and 3(1) of the Federal Constitution. The conversion of the children was therefore unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect. (paras 67 & 69)

(4) Even if the consent of a single parent (to the conversion) sufficed under s. 106(b) of the Enactment, there was nevertheless a need to give the applicant the right to be heard, more so when she would be deprived of her rights altogether where the decision regarding the religious upbringing of the children was concerned. Here, both she and the children had not been heard and the certificates of conversion could not be sustained for breach of natural justice. (paras 79 & 83)

(5) Where there were two possible interpretations of the word "parent" in art. 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, the interpretation that was consistent with the other constitutional provisions, particularly the fundamental liberties provisions, and which best promoted commitment to international norms and enhanced basic human rights and human dignity, was to be preferred. By interpreting art. 12(4) as requiring a single parent's consent to convert a minor child to Islam in disregard of the rights of the non-converting parent fell foul of art. 8 of the Constitution and made the equal rights of guardianship of both parents under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961 illusory and infirm. (paras 56 & 110)

(6) Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution did not take away the powers of the civil High Courts the moment a matter came within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts. Not only must the subject matter concerned be purely within the province of the Syariah Court but that the subject appearing before it must be Muslims. Both the powers and the parties must come within the purview and province of the Syariah Courts. Only then would the civil High Courts not have jurisdiction. In the instant case, the applicant being non-Muslim, had no locus to appear in the Syariah Courts even if the Syariah Courts were to allow it. (paras 24 & 25)

(7) The Syariah Court was a creature of state law and did not have jurisdiction to decide on the constitutionality of matters said to be within its exclusive purview and province. Only the superior civil courts, being a creature of the constitution, had that jurisdiction. The civil High Court accordingly had jurisdiction to hear the applicant's case as she was challenging the constitutionality of the respondents' actions in converting the children to Islam as well as asserting her rights under the Fundamental Liberties provisions in Part II of the Federal Constitution as well as under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1961. (paras 11 & 18)

(8) The civil High Courts not only had the general powers referred to in s. 23 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 and the additional powers referred to in the Schedule to the Act but had residual or reserve powers to hear a complaint from any citizen that his or her constitutional rights or legal rights had been violated whether under Federal law or a State Enactment. The constitution was supreme and Parliament could not take away the judicial powers of the court to hear the genuine grievance of any citizen. (para 21)

Case(s) referred to:

Abdul Kahar Ahmad v. Kerajaan Negeri Selangor Darul Ehsan; Kerajaan Malaysia & Anor (Interveners) [2008] 4 CLJ 309 FC (refd)

AmBank (M) Bhd v. Tan Tem Som & Another Appeal [2013] 3 CLJ 317 FC (refd)

B Surinder Singh Kanda v. Government of the Federation of Malaya [1962] 1 LNS 14 PC (refd)

Chung Chi Cheung v. The King [1939] AC 160 (refd)

Dato' Kadar Shah Tun Sulaiman v. Datin Fauziah Haron [2008] 4 CLJ 504 HC (refd)

Datuk Hj Mohammad Tufail Mahmud & Ors v. Dato' Ting Check Sii [2009] 4 CLJ 449 FC (refd)

Federal Hotel Sdn Bhd v. National Union of Hotel, Bar & Restaurant Workers [1983] 1 CLJ 67; [1983] CLJ (Rep) 150 FC (refd)

Latifah Mat Zin v. Rosmawati Sharibun & Anor [2007] 5 CLJ 253 FC (refd)

Lina Joy lwn. Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan & Yang Lain [2007] 3 CLJ 557 FC (refd)

Manoharan Malayalam & Anor v. Dato' Seri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak & Ors [2013] 1 LNS 297 CA (refd)

Ministry for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v. Teoh [1995] 183 CLR 273 (refd)

Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin v. Chayed Basirun & Ors [2012] 1 CLJ 769 HC (refd)

Shamala Sathiyaseelan v. Dr Jeyaganesh C Mogarajah [2004] 3 CLJ 516 HC (refd)

Sivarasa Rasiah v. Badan Peguam Malaysia & Anor [2010] 3 CLJ 507 FC (refd)

Subashini Rajasingam v. Saravanan Thangathoray & Other Appeals [2008] 2 CLJ 1 FC (refd)

Tan Sung Mooi v. Too Miew Kim [1994] 3 CLJ 708 SC (refd)

Tan Tek Seng @ Tan Chee Meng v. Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Pendidikan & Anor [1996] 2 CLJ 771 CA (refd)

Teoh Eng Huat v. The Kadhi of Pasir Mas, Kelantan & Anor [1990] 2 CLJ 11; [1990] 1 CLJ (Rep) 277 SC (refd)

Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur v. Menteri Dalam Negeri & Anor [2010] 2 CLJ 208 HC (refd)

Wan Jalil Wan Abdul Rahman & Anor v. PP [1988] 1 LNS 150 SC (refd)

Zaina Abidin Hamid & Ors v. Kerajaan Malaysia & Ors [2009] 6 CLJ 683 CA (refd)

Legislation referred to:

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perak) Enactment 2004, ss. 50(3)(b)(x), 96(1), 98, 99, 100, 101(2), 106(b)

Administration of the Religion of Islam (Perlis) Enactment 2006, s. 117(b)

Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Penang) Enactment 2004, s. 117(b)

Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003, s. 117(b)

Administration of Islamic Religious Affairs (Terengganu) Enactment 1422H/2001M, s. 101(b)

Courts of Judicature Act 1964, ss. 4, 23, 25(2)

Federal Constitution, arts. 3(1), (4), 4(1), 5(1), 8(1), (2), 11, 12(4), 75, 121(1), (1A), 160(1), 160A, 160B

Guardianship of Infants Act 1961, ss. 3, 5, 11

Guardianship of Infants (Amendment) Act 1999, s. 5

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, ss. 2, 4(4)

Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance 1948, s. 2(95)

Rules of the High Court 1980, O. 53 rr. 1, 8(2)

Counsel:

For the applicant - K Shanmuga (M Kulasegaran, Fahri Azzat, Selvam Nadarajah with him); M/s Kula & Assocs

For the 1st-3rd respondents - Hamzah Ismail; Assistant State Legal Adviser, Perak

For the 4th & 5th respondents - Noorhisham Ismail; SFC

For the 6th respondent - Hatim Musa; M/s Hatim Musa & Co

Reported by Ashok Kumar




ARBITRATION: Award - Setting aside - Application for - Leave to file application outside time limit - Reasons for delay - Whether extension could be allowed - Whether time limit prescribed under s. 37(4) Arbitration Act 2005 mandatory - Whether words "may not" in s. 37(4) to be read as "must" or "shall"

STATUTORY INTERPRETATION: Construction of statutes - Intention of Parliament - Use of words "may not" as opposed to "shall" in s. 37(4) Arbitration Act 2005 - Whether mandatory or merely directory - Whether words "may not" in s. 37(4) to be read as "must" or "shall"

WORDS & PHRASES: "may not" - Arbitration Act 2005, r. 37(4) - Wording of - Whether mandatory or merely directory - Whether to be read as "must" or "shall"


JHW REELS SDN BHD v. SYARIKAT BORCOS SHIPPING SDN BHD
HIGH COURT, KUALA LUMPUR
MOHAMAD ARIFF YUSOF J
[ORIGINATING SUMMONS NO: 24NCC (ARB)-3-01-2012]
18 MAY 2012

The plaintiff, via encl. 1, sought to set aside a partial award under s. 37(1)(b)(ii) and (2)(b) of the Arbitration Act 2005 (`the Act'). However, the application was filed outside the time limit provided under s. 37(4) of the Act and therefore, the plaintiff applied for leave to file encl. 1 beyond the 90 days prescribed under s. 37(4) of the Act (`prayer (i)'). The plaintiff cited, inter alia, miscalculation of the dates, medical leave by counsel and problems with the E-filing system as the reasons for the six days delay. The plaintiff stressed on the use of the words "may not" in s. 37(4) as opposed to "shall" in contending that the leave for extension of time should be allowed. The plaintiff also relied on the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court and para. 8 of the Schedule to the Courts of Judicature Act 1964. The plaintiff further advanced comparative cases of the English courts where an application outside the time limit was allowed provided there were cogent reasons for the same. On the contrary, the respondent urged that a strict reading of s. 37(4) of the Act should be taken, since essentially such a position will be consonant with the scheme of the Arbitration Act which has adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law (`Model Law').

Held (dismissing prayer (i) with costs; dismissing encl. 1 with costs):

(1) On a proper reading of s. 37(4) of the Act, it was clear that the time limit imposed is mandatory. This view accords with the generally accepted view that under the Model Law, the time limit is strict and express power must be given under the law itself before the court can extend time. This view also accords with the principle of intervention by the courts of law as strongly underlined in s. 8 of the Act and support for the strict reading can be found within the four corners of s. 37 itself. (para 19)

(2) The appearance of the words "may not" in s. 37(4) cannot reasonably be read as denoting a merely directory requirement. In the total scheme of the Act and bearing in mind the full provision of s. 37, this will be a case where "may" should be read as "must" or "shall" to effectuate the legislative intent. (Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic v. Thai-Lao Lignite Co Ltd & Anor (dist)). (para 21)

(3) In light of the express wording of the statutory provisions, the court took note of the persuasive decision in ABC Co v. XYZ Ltd in reaching the decision in favour of a strict reading of s. 37(4) and exclusion of a power to extend time. (paras 22 & 23)

Obiter:

There could be no plausible prejudice resulting to the plaintiff since the very same issues sought to be canvassed in this application under s. 37(1)(b)(ii) and (2)(b) of the Act, had been ventilated as well in the earlier application by the defendant to register the award under ss. 38 and 39. Given the obvious overlaps between ss. 37 and 39, it would have made practical sense to have both applications heard before one court and before the same judge. At present, the application to set aside was being heard after the other court had allowed the defendant's application to register the award. To accede to the plaintiff's application here would be to allow the plaintiff to have the proverbial second bite of the cherry. (para 25)

Case(s) referred to:

ABC Co v. XYZ Ltd [2003] SGHC 107; [2003] 3 SLR(R) 546 (foll)

Dato' Dr Muhammad Ridzuan Mohd Salleh & Anor v. Syarikat Air Terengganu Sdn Bhd [2012] 6 CLJ 156 HC (refd)

Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic v. Thai-Lao Lignite Co Ltd & Anor [2012] 10 CLJ 399 HC (dist)

Kalmneft v. Glencore International AG [2002] 1 All ER 76 (refd)

Nagusina Naviera v. Allied Maritime Inc [2002] EWCA Civ 1147 (refd)

Legislation referred to:

Arbitration Act 2005, ss. 8, 37(1)(b)(ii), (2)(b), (4), (5), 38, 39, 42(2)

Courts of Judicature Act 1964, s. 25(2)

Rules of the High Court 1980, O. 92 r. 4

Arbitration Act 1996 [UK], ss. 70, 80

Civil Procedure Rules [UK], r. 62.9(1)

Other source(s) referred to:

David Altaras, Time Limits for Appealing Against and Challenging an Arbitral Award in England and Wales, 2008, pp 360-368

Counsel:

For the plaintiff - Isa Aziz Ibrahim (Darren Malis Isik with him); M/s Ranjit Ooi & Robert Low

For the defendant - Vinodhini B Samuel; M/s Ariff & Co

Reported by S Barathi




KONTRAK: Pelanggaran - Perjanjian - Perjanjian sewa beli kenderaan - Penamatan kontrak akibat kegagalan membayar ansuran bulanan - Sama ada terdapat pihak ketiga yang memalsukan identiti pembeli - Sama ada terdapat saksi-saksi yang melihat pihak-pihak memeterai perjanjian - Sama ada perjanjian sempurna dan teratur


AMBANK (M) BHD lwn. NOORSHAM ABU BAKAR [2013] 1 SMC 209
MAHKAMAH SESYEN, JOHOR BAHRU
ISHAK BAKRI HS
[SAMAN NO: 52-811-2009]
1 OGOS 2012

Tuntutan plaintif terhadap defendan adalah berasaskan suatu perjanjian sewa beli sebuah kenderaan (`perjanjian') yang ditandatangani oleh kedua-dua pihak itu. Di bawah perjanjian tersebut, defendan dikehendaki membayar ansuran bulanan kepada plaintif. Apabila defendan ingkar membuat bayaran, plaintif telah membuat beberapa percubaan untuk mengesan dan memiliki semula kenderaan tersebut tetapi gagal. Plaintif kemudiannya mengeluarkan satu notis tuntutan kepada defendan bagi menuntut bayaran berjumlah RM71,691.41 namun defendan gagal membayarnya. Oleh itu, plaintif telah menamatkan perjanjian tersebut dan menuntut, antara lain, pembayaran berjumlah RM127,047.49 daripada defendan. Defendan menafikan bahawa beliau telah memasuki perjanjian tersebut dengan plaintif dan menghujahkan bahawa beliau tidak bertanggungan untuk membayar jumlah yang dituntut oleh plaintif. Adalah menjadi hujahan defendan bahawa terdapat pihak ketiga yang telah menggunakan identitinya secara palsu untuk memasuki perjanjian tersebut. Sebaliknya, plaintif mendakwa bahawa terdapat perjanjian antaranya dengan defendan dan mengemukakan saksi-saksi yang memberikan keterangan bahawa defendan telah menandatangani perjanjian tersebut. Isu-isu yang dibangkitkan di sini adalah (i) sama ada perjanjian tersebut adalah sempurna dan teratur; dan (ii) sama ada defendan benar-benar menandatangani perjanjian tersebut dengan plaintif.

Diputuskan (menolak tuntutan plaintif dengan kos):

(1) Walaupun saksi-saksi plaintif memberi keterangan bahawa defendan telah menandatangani perjanjian tersebut, hakikat sebenar adalah bahawa tidak ada seorang pun daripada kesemua saksi yang melihat defendan menandatangani perjanjian tersebut. Hakikat sebenar adalah bahawa tandatangan defendan dalam perjanjian tersebut disediakan di tempat pengedar kereta dan diserahkan kepada plaintif untuk ditandatangani oleh saksi-saksi plaintif. Tandatangan defendan tidak dilakukan di hadapan saksi-saksi. Saksi-saksi tersebut juga tidak melihat sendiri bahawa defendan telah menerima kenderaan tersebut dan pengecaman bahawa defendan merupakan pihak dalam perjanjian tersebut tidak dibuat. (perenggan 25 & 31)

(2) Terdapat pemalsuan slip gaji dan lesen memandu defendan dalam permohonan pinjaman tersebut. Juga, terdapat keraguan berkenaan maklumat peribadi defendan yang berada dalam milikan plaintif. Rekod plaintif menunjukkan bahawa slip gaji defendan terdapat caruman KWSP sebulan berjumlah RM676 sedangkan salinan penyata KWSP defendan jelas menunjukkan bahawa pada masa material, tidak terdapat sebarang caruman KWSP. Di samping itu, terdapat perbezaan ketara antara lesen memandu yang dimiliki oleh defendan dan lesen memandu dalam rekod plaintif. (perenggan 36 & 37)

(3) Atas imbangan kebarangkalian, defendan bukanlah individu yang menandatangani perjanjian tersebut. Walaupun defendan gagal mendapatkan laporan kimia, ini tidak bermakna defendan gagal membuktikan bahawa tandatangannya telah dipalsukan dan kegagalan defendan mengemukakan laporan kimia tidak bermakna plaintif telah berjaya membuktikan tuntutan plaintif. Defendan boleh mengemukakan lain-lain bukti bagi pertimbangan mahkamah bahawa tandatangannya telah dipalsukan. Beban bukti tetap terletak pada plaintif untuk membuktikan plidingnya namun plaintif gagal membuktikannya. (perenggan 45, 49 & 56)

Kes-kes yang dirujuk:

Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd v. Sail Yalang [2010] 4 CLJ 963 HC (dirujuk)

AmIslamic Bank Berhad v. Naganthiren Vijayakumaran [2011] 1 LNS 708 HC (dirujuk)

Hong Leong Leasing Sdn Bhd v. Tan Kim Cheong [1993] 1 LNS 110 HC (dirujuk)

MBf Finance Bhd v. Low Achee & Anor [2010] 1 LNS 1024 HC (dirujuk)

Perundangan yang dirujuk:

Contracts Act 1950, s. 26

Evidence Act 1950, s. 101

Kaunsel:

Bagi pihak plaintif - Azrin Felicia Abdul Rahim; T/n A Rahim & Co

Bagi pihak defendan- Jailani Rahman; Jabatan Bantuan Guaman

Dilaporkan oleh Najib Tamby

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