By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — After a long drawn out and bitter battle in the courts, kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi was finally granted custody of her 22-month-old daughter Prasana Diksa at the Ipoh High Court today.
High Court Justice Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim made the decision in chambers this morning and issued an order for Indira’s Muslim-convert husband to hand over Prasana immediately.
Indira’s husband, now known as Mohd Ridzuan Abdullah, did not hand over the child immediately however as he had not brought her to the court for today’s decision.
Instead, he left the court immediately with the Perak Religious Department officials.
According to the officials, Mohd Ridzuan would not be able to return Prasana to his wife immediately as the toddler was presently in Kelantan.
Indira’s lead counsel M. Kulasegaran told reporters outside the courtroom later that the judge had made the decision as it was in the family’s best interest for Prasana to return to her mother and be together with her other two siblings, Karan Dinish, 11, and Tevi Darsiny, 12.
“Also, the judge said that Mohd Ridzuan does not even have a steady job,” he said.
Kulasegaran added he hoped Mohd Ridzuan would abide by the court’s order and return the child immediately.
“The court has also allowed him visitation rights at once a week,” added Kulasegaran.
Prior to the decision, Kulasegaran said that the counsels from the Perak Religious Department had objected to Justice Wan Afrah presiding over the case as the matter should be referred to the Syariah Court.
“However, the court decided that it had the jurisdiction to hear the matter as Indira is a non Muslim. Furthermore, being a non-Muslim, Indira cannot go to the Syariah Court,” he said. Meanwhile, in a separate court, Indira’s application to seek leave for judicial review to quash the conversion of her three children to become Muslims was postponed to April 3.
Outside the court, a teary-eyed Indira told reporters that she was relieved with the decision and happy that she would finally get to be reunited with her youngest daughter again.
“It has been very difficult for me all this time. I cannot wait to see her again, I hope she will be returned to me as soon as possible,” she said.
Indira has been embroiled in a fierce custody battle for her children with her husband since early last year. She has also been trying to ensure that her children, who were converted to Muslims without her knowledge by her husband, remained as Hindus.