Bidayuh couple seeking legal redress to include father’s name in youngest child’s birth cert

Bidayuh couple seeking legal redress to include father’s name in youngest child’s birth cert

KUCHING: A Bidayuh couple is seeking legal redress to have the father’s details included in their youngest child’s birth certificate so that they can raise the child as a Christian.

They have filed a judicial review application at the High Court here seeking a declaration that as parents, they have a constitutional right to determine their child’s religion.

The couple, whose identities have been ordered to be withheld by the court, named the regional Registrar of Births and Deaths in Sarawak, the director-general of the National Registration Department (NRD), the Sarawak NRD and the Federal Government as respondents in their application filed on March 29 this year.

The application is fixed for hearing on Wednesday (Oct 26) after leave was granted by the court on May 18 to proceed with the judicial review.

The couple are also seeking a declaration that their child, according to the decision of both parents, is of the Christian religion, as well as an order compelling the first and second respondents to issue changes in the details of religion in the child’s birth certificate to reflect that of Christianity.

The couple’s lawyer Clarice Chan said the grounds of the application were premised on the parents’ right to raise their child as they deemed fit.

“This is a fundamental right enshrined under Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, which provides that the religion of a person under the age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent.

“In this case, both parents have unanimously agreed to raise their child in a specific manner,” she said.

Chan also said case law indicated that the NRD only played an administrative role in recording the details of a child’s birth, with no authority to decide what to record or omit in the child’s birth certificate.

She said the NRD did not register the father’s details in the child’s birth certificate in this case, although both parents made a joint application to register the child’s birth in 2008.

“By omitting the father’s details, the NRD has gone beyond the ambit of its powers as record keepers,” she added.

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