MCCBCHST Press Statement on Burial of Alleged Muslim Convert

Family fails in bid to stop burial, convert buried as a Muslim
By K. KASTURI DEWI
THE STAR Tuesday July 8, 2008

GEORGE TOWN: The family of a 34-year-old man, who had supposedly converted to Islam, has failed to stop the Perak Islamic Religious Affairs Department from burying him as a Muslim. The High Court yesterday dismissed an Erinford injunction application by B. Elangesvaran’s stepbrother to stop his body from being removed from the Parit Buntar hospital mortuary. It was learnt that Elangesvaran was buried at the Parit Buntar Muslim cemetery last night.
Justice Balia Yusof Wahi in dismissing the application by S. Selvam said that there was no merit in the application. An Erinford injunction is applied pending the outcome of an appeal filed by a plaintiff. The Perak Islamic Religious Affairs Department had last Friday obtained an order from the Parit Buntar Syariah Court that declared Elangesvaran a Muslim.

Selvam said he was distraught and disappointed with the decision. He filed the Erinford injunction at the High Court last Friday after the same court dismissed his interim injunction application. On June 25, Selvam filed a summons at the High Court challenging his stepbrother’s conversion. He had sought a declaration that Elangesvaran was a Hindu when alive and when the latter committed suicide on June 22.

In his statement of claim, Selvam, who named the Perak Islamic Religious Affairs Department, Penang Islamic Religious Department and the Parit Buntar Hospital director as defendants, said the religious authorities failed to provide him with the necessary documents to prove that Elangesvaran had embraced Islam.

Selvam, through his counsel Karpal Singh, also filed a notice of appeal yesterday against the dismissal of the interim injunction application. Karpal Singh said if they succeeded in their appeal, then a delicate situation would arise.

“If the deceased is declared a Hindu following the appeal, then the body can be exhumed and buried according to Hindu rites,” he said.

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MCCBCHST Press Statement: The Elangesvaran case decision
Tuesday, 08 July 2008

The MCCBCHST is saddened to learn that yet again, the body of a person who his family members say is Hindu, is being taken away by the Islamic religious authorities to be buried according to Islamic rites based on a Syariah court order given in the absence of the family.

We are equally saddened that the State governments of Perak and Penang ignored calls to ensure that the Islamic religious authorities seek the directions of the civil courts so as to allow the non Muslim family members of the late B Elangesvaran to be heard before a decision is made on whether or not he professed and practised Islam or Hinduism at the time of his death.

Disheartening also is the attitude of the learned High Court Judge who seems to have meekly obeyed an order made by the Syariah courts despite recent Federal Court pronouncements clearly stating that the Syariah courts have no jurisdiction in any dispute where non Muslims are involved. Instead of disregarding the unconstitutional order of the Syariah court, the High Court has yet again avoided its Constitutional responsibility to ensure that justice is done.

We are also disappointed with the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Attorney General. After the fiasco of the “Everest Moorthy” body snatching, we had been promised so many times that legislative reforms will be made to ensure that situations like this will not recur. Yet, nothing has been done. No attempts have been made to make meaningful changes although there has been a lot of talk of reform.

The nation cannot long survive a continuation of these gross injustices. It is rather poignant that it was the Regent of Perak who famously said last year that all of us have a place under the Malaysian sun. For the family of Elangesvaran living in Perak, the words of their Regent rings hollow.

Their right to have their say in Court has been held by the Federal and State governments, the Ipoh High Court, the Ipoh Syariah court and the Islamic religious authorities to be worthless.

Datuk A. Vaithilingam,
MCCBCHST PRESIDENT

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