Civil Court Has No Jurisdiction To Decide Moorthy’s Religious Status

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 20 (Bernama) — The Court of Appeal here Friday ruled that the civil court has no jurisdiction to determine the religious status of the late Everest climber Sergeant M. Moorthy whose conversion to Islam has been a subject of dispute.

A three-man panel comprising Datuk Zainun Ali, Datuk Abdul Wahab Patail and Datuk Clement Allan Skinner made the ruling when dismissing the appeal brought by Moorthy’s widow S. Kaliammal.

The bench held that the Syariah Court was the competent authority to determine any matter relating to the conversion to, or renouncement of, Islam.

Kaliammal, who was present in court, was appealing against the High Court’s ruling on Dec 28, 2005, which refused to determine the religious status of her late husband on grounds that a matter of this nature was under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syariah Court.

She filed an originating summons on Dec 21, 2005 to the Kuala Lumpur High Court, which, among other things, sought a declaration that Moorthy was a Hindu.

The following day, the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Affairs Religious Council obtained an ex-parte order from the Syariah Court stating that Moorthy had embraced Islam prior to his death.

The order also permitted the council to bury Moorthy, whose Muslim name was Mohamad Abdullah, according to Islamic rites.

He was buried on Dec 28, 2005 at the Taman Ibukota Muslim Cemetery in Gombak, Selangor.

Moorthy became paralysed from the waist down after a fall during training at the Sungai Udang Camp in Melaka on Aug 14, 1998 and was confined to a wheelchair.

The former army commando went into a coma following a fall from the wheelchair and died at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s intensive care unit on Dec 20, 2005.


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