GEORGE TOWN: A dispute over the right to claim the body of a man between the religious authorities and the deceased’s family has taken on a new twist.
The matter was supposed to be decided at the High Court here yesterday afternoon, but the religious authorities jumped the gun and obtained a declaration from the Parit Buntar Syariah Court in the morning.
The Syariah court declared that the deceased, Elangesvaran Benedict, was a Muslim.
The matter was decided by the court despite the fact that Elangesvaran’s wife, who had been named as a respondent in the case, was not present in the Syariah court.
This raised the wrath of Elangesvaran’s family who had gathered at the High Court here.
Karpal Singh and R.S.N. Rayer, who represented Elangesvaran’s family, expressed outrage over the underhanded manner the case had been handled.
They raised the matter with High Court judge Datuk Balia Yusuf Wahi when the case was heard in his chambers.
“We made it clear that it is not proper for them (the religious authorities) to have gone to the Syariah Court in the morning, knowing very well that this matter is going to be heard at the High Court in the afternoon,” said Karpal.
“This is wrong and we are thinking of filing a contempt of court application against them.”
Earlier, Balia Yusuf dismissed the interim injunction sought by Elangesvaran’s family to prevent the religious authorities from claiming his body from the Parit Buntar Hospital mortuary.
However, he also granted a stay which prohibits anyone from removing the body after Karpal and Rayer said they would be filing for another injunction to restrain the religious authorities from getting the body.
The matter is set to be heard at the same court here on Monday afternoon.
The case involves Elangesvaran’s family who are disputing the Perak and Penang religious departments’ claims that he was a convert.
Elangesvaran, 34, committed suicide on June 22 and his body was sent to the Parit Buntar Hospital for a post-mortem.
His family was later told they could not claim the body for burial as Elangesvaran was a Muslim convert.
They later filed a summons at the High Court here, claiming that Elangesvaran had always been a Hindu and had died as one.
They are now seeking to get back the body to be buried according to Hindu rites.