ISSUE 5/2023 – MALAYA APPEAL COURT DIVIDED ON THE QUESTION OF FAITH IMPOSED ON A CHILD
Court of Appeal’s decision in MAJLIS AGAMA ISLAM SELANGOR v. DAHLIA DHAIMA ABDULLAH & ANOTHER APPEAL
The respondent, born a non-Muslim and converted to Islam when she was under the age of five, had applied to the High Court and was granted a declaratory order that she was not a person who professed the religion of Islam. The Syariah High Court had previously found that the respondent was still a Muslim, and the Syariah Court of Appeal affirmed the decision.
The majority of the Court of Appeal, in setting aside the High Court’s decision, held, among other things, that the High Court lacked the jurisdiction to determine the respondent’s application, that the High Court’s finding that the respondent had never been a Muslim was erroneous; and that the respondent’s case was necessarily a renunciation case and not an ab initio case given the Syariah Courts’ pronouncement that the respondent was still a Muslim.
However, the dissenting judgment of the Court of Appeal was that the High Court’s decision to grant the declaratory relief was correct, and the decision was affirmed.