Malaysia orders arrest of Muslim convert father who denied mom child's custody

Police chief should enforce the arrest warrant against Riduan and ensure that the child is returned to the mother.

Malaysian citizen of Indian origin Indira Gandhi won a crucial court order in a case involving the custody of her child who was converted to Islam and kept away from her by her ex-husband.

The federal court ordered the national police chief to arrest Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, whose name at birth was Padmanathan, for contempt of court as he refused to hand over the custody of their daughter Prasana Diksa to Indira Gandhi.

The court also ordered the authorities to monitor the entire process of tracking and arresting Muhammad Riduan, who converted to Islam while married to Indira, Hindu. Justice Raus Shariff, the president of the Court of Appeal, made the order in the presence of Senior Federal Counsel Suzana Atan and Indira's counsel M. Kulasegaran.

The court observed that Muhammad Riduan failed to produce the child at the court after repeated instructions.

There are currently two conflicting orders over the custody of Indira's daughter -- the Ipoh High Court's order favouring her and the Shariah court verdict that gave the child's custody to Riduan.

In Decemeber 2014, Indira Gandhi, a kindergarten teacher, filed an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal which had rejected her appeal to enforce the High Court's mandamus order. This in a way would have compelled IGP Khalid Abu Bakar to retrieve Prasana and lead to the arrest of her husband.

On September 2014, Ipoh High Court judge Justice Lee Swee Seng granted Indira's application for an order. It said that the IGP should enforce the orders of the civil court and not the orders of the Syariah (Shariah) Court.

In the court, Khalid said that there was a delay because the police was in dilemma as there were two custody orders. If they executed any of those orders, that would have been in violation of the other verdict.

The Ipoh Syariah High Court had granted the custody of all three daughters of the couple to the father on 29 September, 2009, passing verdict in the custody battle.

Riduan, who is a converted Muslim, had also converted Prasana along with her other siblings. Prasana was only 11 months old at that time. But again on March 11, 2010, the Ipoh High Court ordered and placed the custody of the children with Indira.

As per the latest mandamus order, the police chief should enforce the arrest warrant against Riduan and ensure that the child is returned to the mother.

"We are of the view that Pathmanathan must be handed to face justice" the court said.

"The chronology in this case shows that Pathmanathan has no respect for the court's order, that he willingly submitted himself to the civil court and due process was accorded to him, but when the case didn't turn out to be in his favour, decided to disobey the court's order," the judge added.