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Fresh ordeal for Hindu woman in Malaysia

A Hindu woman, who has for 18 months tried to seek legal redress over her dead husband's religious status, may have to go through the entire appeal process again.

india Updated: May 23, 2007 15:49 IST

A Hindu woman, who has for 18 months tried to seek legal redress over her dead husband's religious status, may have to go through the entire appeal process again as all the judges involved in the case will no longer be on the bench.

Kaliammal's case received wide media coverage as it involved the religious status of her husband, M Moorthy, an ethnic Malaysian Indian, who had allegedly converted to Islam, without informing his family, before his death on December 20, 2005.

Kuala Lumpur Hospital authorities refused to release Moorthy's body to his Hindu family. The couple has an 11-year-old daughter.

His widow filed an application the following day at the High Court, among others, seeking a declaration that Moorthy was a Hindu. She named the Kuala Lumpur Islamic Affairs Religious Council, the director of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital and the government as respondents.

The following day, the council obtained an order from the Syariah Court that Moorthy had embraced Islam prior to his death and his body was released to the council for a Muslim burial.

On December 29, 2005, the then High Court judge Mohd Raus Sharif ruled that the civil court had no jurisdiction on matters pertaining to Islam, the New Straits Times newspaper reported.

Kaliammal then took her case to the Court of Appeal which sat on June 26, last year. The appellate court was to have delivered judgment in September last year after counsel were instructed to provide written submissions.

However, three Court of Appeal judges who had heard her case will no longer be on the bench, the paper said. Judge Denis Ong Jiew Fook will retire next month followed by the presiding judge Mokhtar Sidin in September. The third member of the bench, Abdul Aziz Mohamad, was elevated to the Federal Court in July last year.

This would mean that factory worker S Kaliammal will have to wait much longer for a decision on her appeal, the paper said adding the appeal hearing is now scheduled for the end of the year.

The case will be heard afresh before a new panel.