Couple agrees to live apart, custody of children given to Hindu hubby
SHAH ALAM (May 3, 2007) - A 40-year-old woman today agreed to live apart from her non-Muslim husband and gave him custody of their seven children after choosing to continue practising Islam.
She is, however, given unlimited access to her children aged four to 14, the product of their 20-year marriage which was not formally registered.
It was a touching scene at the High Court here when Raimah Bibi Noordin, 40, told Justice Datuk Su Geok Yiam she had agreed to hand over her children to 44-year-old P. Marimuthu whom she had married according to Hindu rites.
Raimah will now live apart from Marimuthu, who will bring up the children, comprising four boys and three girls, according to Hindu tradition.
She will have to fend for herself, with some aid from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS).
Marimuthu had filed a habeas corpus application against JAIS, alleging that his wife and six of their children were being unlawfully detained by JAIS which took them from their home in Kampung Baru Tambahan, Ulu Yam Lama, in Batang Kali, on April 2.
With today's agreement, the application was withdrawn.
Karpal Singh, who represented Marimuthu, told Su both parties had reached an agreement on the matter.
"The children will be surrendered to Marimuthu and they will continue to be raised as Hindus while Raimah Bibi remains steadfast as a Muslim. She will have absolute access to the children at any time," said Karpal.
Karpal later told reporters Raimah Bibi had filed an affidavit stating she had left her husband's home willingly and on her own accord.
State legal adviser Datuk Zauyah Loth Khan, who represented JAIS, told Su the habeas corpus application was withdrawn after Marimuthu agreed his wife was not being unlawfully detained by JAIS.
"The arrangements are as stated by Karpal ... access to the children without any restrictions. Raimah Bibi is a Muslim and will continue to practise Islam."
Karpal then requested the court to hear it personally from Raimah Bibi and to obtain her confirmation on the arrangement.
Clutching her headscarf and wiping away tears, Raimah Bibi nodded and answered the judge's questions.
"I am not unlawfully detained by anyone. I agree to hand over custody of our children into my husband's care and I will have unrestricted access to them at all times," she said.
Both Marimuthu and Raimah Bibi were seen shedding tears after the verdict and spoke to each other briefly.
Outside the courtroom, Karpal said the outcome of the case was akin to that judged by King Solomon, whereby a mother who was involved in dispute with another woman over her baby, decided to let the other woman take her child when the king ordered that the child be split in half and shared.
Asked about the status of Raimah Bibi's marriage, Karpal said it remained but the couple would be living apart.
The six children are now staying with Raimah Bibi in a rented home in Bandar Utama Batang Kali, about 2km from Marimuthu's house.
Zauyah, when asked if Raimah Bibi would seek to anull her marriage to Marimuthu, said they had not decided.
DAP's Lim Kit Siang, who was also present, said the outcome of the case has resulted in an open-ended solution which divided the couple.
Karpal later said an arrangement was being made to take custody of the children from Raimah Bibi today. sun2surf