The legal counsel for T.Saravanan, Subashini's estranged dubiously converted husband - submitted his argument yesterday. You can find it on Sun2Surf and Malaysiakini. Their headlines are ominous... Civil courts have no jurisdiction: Counsel and Subashini can "submit" to Syariah Court, respectively.
Apart from citing the arguments of Article 3(1) that Islam is the religion of the Federation and Article 121(A) regarding the jurisdiction of the syariah court over matters of Islamic law, he said:
...Saravanan could not subject himself to the civil courts because he had converted to Islam. However, Subashini could go to the civil court or choose to go to the syariah court.Just because the syariah court deems itself fit to make judgements over non-Muslims DOES NOT mean that non-Muslims need to submit themselves to the judgements of the syariah court. As far as the Federal Constitution and non-Muslims are concerned, the judgements of the syariah court are as binding on non-Muslims as the raspy shouts of the my angry old neighbour are over where my dog takes a dump in my garden.
Hence, he argued, the non-Muslim – in this case, Subashini -- should go to the syariah court instead of preventing the Muslim party from seeking justice.
Similar or better remedies were available to the non-Muslim spouse under syariah jurisprudence.
But here is the greatest FLAW in Saravanan's argument, which ironically is also its main thrust.
Haniff said the civil marriage between Subashini and Saravanan ended under Islamic law upon the husband’s conversion.Uhhh... I'm sorry, I'm just as unversed in Conman Law as I am in Ekornomics.
Isn't a marriage a contract, an arrangement, an agreement between 2 parties? And being such, can one party take unilateral actions to change the terms of the agreement? Doesn't both parties have to mutually agree on any changes to the contracted terms?
Can someone like Saravanan come to my coffeeshop one evening and consume RM1,000 of Guinness Stout on his tab, then he converts to Islam the next day and reneges on his contractual obligation to pay his RM1,000 tab on the argument that Muslims are not allowed to be party to a contract that involves things that are haram? Notwithstanding the fact that he had already gotten nicely pissed drunk on my booze which he hasn't paid for yet? Is that fair?
So, we cannot, as decent, right-minded people accept such blatantly mischievous attempts by irresponsible persons to renege on their legal obligations by backdoor means, such as conversions. In addition, I am surprised no end, as to why the syariah court allows itself to be manipulated like a puppet on a string by insincere converts, time and time again.
May I submit that Saravanan's conversion does not end a civil marriage, but merely provides grounds for it to end within the confines and continued jurisdiction of civil law?
And if we take the indisputable logic of timeline further, isn't it reasonable to conclude that Saravanan's conversion is illegal in the first place, as he was still encumbered by his civil law marriage, before and at the time of conversion?
If his civil marriage was not important or 'haram' enough to void his conversion from the start, how can it now, suddenly be so important as to be automatically void due to the conversion?
For my view on how conversions needs to be in a civilised Malaysia, read A Solution to the Article 11 Impasse.
To read Subashini's argument, see 'Subashini matters'.
Here's other background reading on how all this impacts the lives and loves of non-Muslims in Malaysia: - http://sean-the-man.blogspot.com/search?q=subashini