The Federal Court has just delivered their verdict on Subashini's appeal. In a 2-1 majority decision (Datuk Abdul Aziz FCJ dissenting), Subashini's appeal was dismissed, mainly on technical grounds. You can read the Malaysian Bar's web reporter's account and if you are subscribed to Malaysiakini, you can also read their scoop.
Though the full judgment will take take to be printed out in full, the gist of the decision is as follows:-
1. Subashini's divorce petition filed in the High Court was premature as it was filed within 3 months of date of conversion. This is in contravention of Section 51 of the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. The said section provides that no petition for divorce may be presented before the expiration of the period of 3 months from the date of the conversion.
2. Subashini can still file a fresh divorce petition in the Civil High Court and ask for ancillary relief. The said High Court has jurisdiction to hear the matter even if the husband had converted and filed for divorce in the Syariah Court.
3. The husband cannot shield behind freedom of religion under Article 11 and the Civil High Court still has jurisdiction under the 1976 Act. However, it is not an abuse of process if husband seeks remedies in Syariah court.
4. Non-Muslim marriages which are dissolved by Syariah Courts have no legal effect to the marriage in civil court unless it is dissolved by civil courts. The contention that the wife may submit to Syariah court is wrong. As a non-Muslim, she has no locus standi to appear in the Syariah court.