SEREMBAN - The High Court here has awarded custody of two children, who were converted to Islam by their father, to their 30-year-old Hindu mother.
Justice Zabariah Mohd Yusof, who made her decision in chambers, said custody should go to S. Deepa (above right) as she had married the children's father, now known as Izwan Abdullah (left), 31, under the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.
The judge also granted an application for a divorce filed by Deepa.
The Syariah High Court here had on April 14 last year granted custody of the children, aged six and nine, to their father.
This prompted Deepa, who was only allowed visits once a fortnight, to file a case at the High Court here last December to annul her marriage and to seek custody of the children.
Izwan's counsel Muhammad Faiz Fadzil said Zabariah granted custody to Deepa based on provisions under Section 51 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976.
"The judge was of the opinion that since the marriage was registered under the civil process, the law that has jurisidiction over matters pertaining to marriage and custody in this case was the Law Reform Act.
"The court also stated that the marriage has to be automatically dissolved as the husband has embraced Islam," he said.
The court also allowed Izwan "restricted" access to both the children.
They were all present in court.
Deepa's daughter, who arrived in court with Izwan and was clad in a tudung, immediately rushed to her mother when she saw her in court.
Deepa, who married Izwan in 2004, had during an interview with The Star in June last year claimed that her husband had abandoned the family in February 2012.
She claimed that in April last year, he took both their children to the Pusat Dakwah Islam here without her knowledge and converted them.
Izwan, when met outside the court, said he was upset with the decision.
"My children are my flesh and blood and the court cannot take them away from me. Did I embrace Islam for this?" he shouted.
Deepa, who was represented by Jaya Malar Raman, said she was relieved over the court's decision.
"I am so happy that I have my children back with me," she said and expressed her gratitude to the Women's Aid Organisation for standing by her.
Also present were WAO representatives Sally Wangsawijaya and Umadevi Rajah Denram.
Wangsawijaya said they were happy for Deepa and would assist her to file another case to have the children's conversion to Islam declared null and void.
Muhammad Faiz said his client would file an appeal in the next few days.