KUALA LUMPUR - There is still no conclusion to the issue of settling matrimonial disputes involving Muslims and their non-Muslim former spouse, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.
He said a person who converts to Islam from his previous religion has the right to seek redress in the Syariah Court, with the option of referring his case to the civil courts.
"I agree, there is no provision under Section 51 of the Law Reform Act that says a person who converts to Islam has no opportunity to go to a civil court.
"However, non-Muslims have a definite right to go to the civil court to dissolve their marriage," he told Parliament.
In response, Hanipa Maidin (PAS - Sepang) said ancillary matters involving a couple, one of whom had converted to Islam, should be settled in civil courts.
He said there should be an amendment of Section 51 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act to allow for this.
He said a non-Muslim has no recourse to get the Syariah Court to apply for an order, while the converted spouse could not initiate action in the civil court.
"There seems to be a clash of jurisdictions here. I suggest that any remedies must be brought to the civil court," Hanipa added.
To this, Jamil Khir said any amendments to the Federal law governing the issue must be agreed to by the respective state Islamic affairs councils.