By Rashvinjeet S. Bedi | The Star

The High Court has been ordered to rehear the case of a practising Buddhist woman born out of wedlock but who is still considered Muslim due to her biological father.

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday unanimously allowed an appeal by Rosliza Ibrahim to set aside a High Court decision that saw her application dismissed.

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, ordered for the case to be remitted back to the Shah Alam High Court to be heard by a different judge

He said the ruling that her case is unsustainable was not a ground to strike out the suit.

Rosliza, 35, contends that she is an illegitimate child born to a Buddhist mother and wants the Selangor state government to exempt her from its enacted Islamic laws.

She filed an originating summons last year in the High Court contending this and sought a legal declaration that Islamic laws enacted by Selangor do not apply to her and that Syariah courts do not have jurisdiction over her.

She provided evidence from the Federal Territories and Selangor religious authorities that neither she nor her mother ever converted to Islam and that the departments did not have records of a marriage between her biological parents.

Rosliza’s mother, who is now deceased, had also signed a statutory declaration stating that she never married Rosliza’s father.

Rosliza’s originating summons was, however, dismissed by the High Court in March this year on grounds that she was not able to prove that her natural parents did not contract a Muslim marriage.

She contends that under English common law and substantive Islamic law, an illegitimate child’s natural father has no rights over the child but that her natural mother has these rights.

Selangor assistant state legal adviser Nik Haizie Azlin Nabidin appeared for the state.

Representatives from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and several women’s groups held a watching brief.