Genealogy Of Muslim Illegitimate Children To Continue As Usual

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PUTRAJAYA – The current implementation of genealogy of Muslim illegitimate children will go on as usual, said National Registration Department Director-General Datuk Mohd Yazid Ramli.

“Any amendments to the current implementation would only be considered after the decision by the Federal Court,”he said in a statement today on the judgement by the Appeals Court that any child conceived out-of-wedlock could use the name of the man who admits fatherhood.

He said the NRD through the Attorney-General’s Chambers had filed an appeal against the verdict of the case which sided the applicant at the Federal Court.

Mohd Yazid said the High Court had previously ruled that under Islamic law, it was not allowed that a child bears the surname of the person who claimed fatherhood as he had been born less than six moths from the date of the parents’ marriage.

“As such, the action taken by the NRD is in line with the decision of the Muzakarah National Fatwa Committee Council,”he said here, yesterday.

In a landmark decision on Thursday by a three man bench, the Court of Appeal ruled that a child conceived out of wedlock can take on his or her father’s surname. The ruling covers all children conceived out of wedlock, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

The court made the ruling in an appeal involving a seven-year-old child (MEMK), who was born five months and 24 days (or five months and 27 days according to the Islamic Qamariah calendar) after his parents married.

Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli, who wrote the unanimous decision in the 29-page judgment, said the jurisdiction of NRD’s director-general is a civil one and is confined to determine whether the father had fulfilled the requirements of Section 13A(2) of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (BDRA).

This ruling essentially reads that the edict on such matters by the National Fatwa Committee does not have the force of law.

In 2003, the National Fatwa Committee decided that a child conceived out of wedlock (“Anak Tak Sah Taraf”) cannot carry the name (“tidak boleh dinasabkan”) of the person who claims to be the father of the child, if the child was born less than six months of the marriage.

Justice Abdul Rahman said the NRD director-general is not obligated to apply, let alone to be bound by a fatwa issued by a religious body such as the National Fatwa Committee.

The child was registered with the NRD two years after birth and at the time of doing this, the parents jointly applied to have MEMK’s name as the father, but the NRD registered the child as “bin Abdullah” instead.

Justice Abdul Rahma said the NRD director-general acted irrationally in refusing to use the child’s father in the birth certificate on the purported ground that according to the fatwa issued by the National Fatwa Committee, the child could not be ascribed with his father’s surname as he is an illegitimate child.

He pointed out that for the NRD director-general to do so would amount to an abrogation of his power under the BDRA and surrendering it to the religious body.

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