Thursday, June 12, 2014

Highest court incredible decision only obtainable in Malaysia - Malu

Royal 'divorce after death' valid, rules highest court

Tuanku Zanariah Tunku Ahmad remains divorced from her late husband the former Sultan Mahmud Iskandar, despite questions remaining over how it had taken place after the sultan's death.

This follows the ruling of the state's highest religious court, the Johor Syariah Court of Appeal, which today upheld the decision by the Syariah High Court that affirmed the Lower Syariah Court's initial decision in recognising the divorce.

The ruling comes despite Tuanku Zanariah not having been called at all during the divorce proceedings, which took place after Sultan Mahmud's death in 2010 and was subsequently backdated to 2009.

A three-member panel headed by Syed Ali Syed Abu Bakar with Marsid @ Morsid Mahrof and Jainudin Mt Sum @ Munaj made the decision today.

Tuanku Zanariah, who was also the former Raja Permaisuri Agong, found herself in the curious predicament when she received a letter informing her of the divorce in August 2013.

The decision today, according to lawyer Afshah Ariffin, who appeared for Tuanku Zanariah, was unanimous and done in a closed court.

Divorce valid, binding on Tuanku Zanariah

“The court ruled that the divorce was valid and that she was bound by the decision,” said Afshah, who was the only lawyer representing Tuanku Zanariah who was allowed to be in court, while solicitor Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman was not allowed in.

Neither Tuanku Zanariah, who is said to be unwell, nor her children were present at today’s proceedings. Her children were previously reportedly barred, along with Kamar Ainiah, from being in the Syariah Court of Appeal courtroom.

Initially, Tuanku Zanariah named her former husband, the late Sultan Mahmud Iskandar (left in photo), as the respondent in the review application at the Syariah High Court, as it was the late sultan who made the divorce application after his death, as reported from case files.

However, the Syariah Court of Appeal decided in allowing the Johor Islamic Council to be an intervener and removed Sultan Mahmud Iskandar from being a party of the application.

The present sultan, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, who is also the leader of the state Islamic council, may intervene in the decision if he so chooses or if Tuanku Zanariah may decide to use that option to appeal before her stepson.

It was previously reported that Tuanku Zanariah submittedseven grounds in appealing the Syariah High Court decision.

Saga started after August 2013

Tuanku Zanariah’s predicament started when she received a letter dated 2010 from the state mufti Mohd Tahrir Syamsuddin, informing her that her husband Sultan Mahmud Iskandar had divorced her.

The letter stated that the divorce took place in 2010 but had been backdated to Jan 23, 2009.

But the sultan had passed away on Jan 22, 2010 and was succeeded by his son from his first marriage, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail.

The witnesses to the alleged divorce were former Johor menteri besar Abdul Ghani Othman (right) and Johor royal committee chairperson Tengku Osman Tunku Temenggong Ahmad, who affirmed a statutory declaration for this purpose.

This resulted in the application for divorce being made in sometime in August 2010, where the proceeding was done without Tuanku Zanariah’s knowledge.

The Johor fatwa committee recognised the two statutory declarations made by Ghani and Tengku Osman, and the Lower Syariah Court then affirmed and declared the divorce which was backdated to 2009.

Subsequently, sometime on Aug 22, last year she also received a letter from Ghani confirming that her title of sultanah has also been revoked following the divorce.

Tuanku Zanariah filed for a judicial review of the Lower Syariah Court decision on Jan 1 this year at the Syariah High Court, but the High Court affirmed the lower court’s decision on Jan 20 this year. This has resulted in the appeal before the Syariah Court of Appeal and today’s decision.

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