KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s civil high court Monday ruled that deceased art director Mohan Singh had converted to Islam, rejecting a plea of his family that his body be released for funeral rites as per Sikh faith.
Judge Rosnaini Saub ruled that due to the religious conversion certificate, the case falls under the jurisdiction of the Syariah court that ruled Mohan Singh died a Muslim June 4, NST Online, the The New Straits Times said on its website.
The court left it to the Syariah Court that deals with issues under Islamic law to determine if he was still a Muslim at the time of his death May 25.
Claims of conversion to Islam by Muslim bodies, upheld by various courts is a sensitive issue among non-Muslims in Muslim majority Malaysia.
Several disputes have arisen in the recent years, one of them being of a Tamil Hindu soldier whose family fought without success to secure his body for Hindu last rites.
The Syariah high court had June 4 ruled that Mohan Singh was a Muslim when he died and should be buried according to Muslim rites.
Syariah high court judge Justice Mohamad Khalid Shaee ruled that Mohan Singh’s conversion was valid after hearing testimony from five witnesses and examining the documents brought before the court, Star Online, the website of The Star newspaper said.
He issued the order in chambers, allowing the application by the Selangor state Islamic Religious Council (Mais) to handle the funeral of the dead man.
Mais filed the application with the Syariah high court to certify Mohan Singh’s conversion status. He was also known as Mohammad Hazzerry Shah Mohan Abdullah.
Mais claimed Singh had converted to Islam in 1992 in Penang.
However, the deceased’s family claimed that the 41-year-old who died of a heart attack, had neither converted to nor practised Islam.
Singh practiced Sikhism and had performed the last rites for his late mother three years ago as per that faith, his family said.
His family filed for a judicial review here against the Sungai Buloh Hospital’s decision not to release the body to them to be cremated according to Sikh rites.
There are 100,000 Sikhs in Malaysia’s Indian community of an estimated two million-plus.