On 11th March 2010, the High Court granted Indira Gandhi “custody of [her] three children. The custody order also directed [Patmanathan a/l Krishnan (“Patmanathan“)] to deliver the youngest child, Prasana Diksa, to [Indira Gandhi] immediately.”
Indira Gandhi commenced commital proceedings against Patmanathan “for willfully refusing to comply with the civil High Court custody order and indeed in flagrant violation of it. She had prayed for an order of committal of the husband to prison until the contempt is purged. Leave was obtained on 18 October 2013 and this notice of application for an order of committal was filed on the same day.”
The learned High Court judge, Justice Lee Swee Seng (now JCA), found Patmanathan guilty of contempt of court and issued a warrant of committal and a committal order.
The High Court also granted a recovery order directed at the police, pursuant to Section 53 of the Child Act 2001.
Patmanathan appealed the matter to the Court of Appeal and his appeal was subsequently struck out.
This means Patmanathan was found guilty of contempt of court for failing to deliver his youngest child, Prasana Diksa, to Indira Gandhi.
The Inspector General of Police (“IGP”) refused to execute the recovery order and the warrant of committal against Patmanathan on the basis that “there are two orders from two different courts competing for compliance: one from the Syariah Court granting custody of the child to the father who had converted to Islam and another from the Civil High Court granting custody of the child to the mother”
Indira Gandhi then filed a judicial review application to seek, amongst others, a court order to compel the IGP to execute the committal order and recovery order.
The learned High Court judge, Justice Lee Swee Seng (now JCA), allowed Indira Gandhi’s judicial review application and granted the order sought.
The Court of Appeal (in a 2-1 majority decision) allowed the IGP’s appeal as it was primarily of the opinion that:
i. Indira Gandhi “was not without remedy if the order of mandamus was refused. The committal order was already there and the respondent could, with the assistance of the court bailiff, enforce the order against the husband to have him apprehended”; and
ii. the “enforcement of court processes involving private rights did not come within [the IGP’s] scope of public duties.”
When the matter came before the Federal Court, the Federal Court unanimously allowed the appeal in respect of the warrant of committal. The Federal Court was of the view that:
“… the duties of a police officer include the execution of warrants. This must include warrants of committal issued resulting from a contempt proceeding. In that light, we are of the view that on the facts and circumstances of this case the IGP cannot refuse to command his officers to execute the warrant of committal issued by the Civil High Court. Thus, when the IGP declared his intention not to execute the said warrant of committal, an order of mandamus can be issued against him.” (emphasis mine)
Unfortunately, till today, four years after the Federal Court’s decision, Patmanathan has not faced the music and the IGP has not successfully executed the warrant of committal despite knowing Patmanathan’s whereabouts.
The IGP’s latest position is that an extradition operation to bring Patmanathan and Prasana Diksa back to Malaysia will be complicated and time-consuming.
This has drawn the ire of, amongst others, Dato’ Sri Mohamed Nazri bin Abdul Aziz, the Member of Parliament of Malaysia for Padang Rengas.
Regrettably, Indira Gandhi’s case serves as an example of how justice in the courts may not translate to justice in reality.
 Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho v Pengarah Jabatan Agama Islam Perak & Ors and other appeals  1 MLJ 545, at paragraph 13 read together with paragraph 17
 Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho v Patmanathan a/l Krishnan (anyone having and control over Prasana Diksa)  7 MLJ 153, at paragraph 7
 Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho v Patmanathan a/l Krishnan (anyone having and control over Prasana Diksa)  7 MLJ 153, at paragraph 148
 Indira Ghandi a/p Mutho v Ketua Polis Negara  3 MLJ 141, at paragraph 31
 Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho v Ketua Polis Negara  9 MLJ 301, at paragraph 5
 Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho v Ketua Polis Negara  9 MLJ 301, at paragraph 8
 Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho v Ketua Polis Negara  9 MLJ 301, at paragraph 93
 Ketua Polis Negara v Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho  2 MLJ 149, at paragraph 30
 Ketua Polis Negara v Indira Gandhi a/p Mutho  2 MLJ 149, at paragraph 36
 Indira Ghandi a/p Mutho v Ketua Polis Negara  3 MLJ 141, at paragraph 34
 Hana Naz Harun, “IGP: Police know where Riduan is.” NST.com.my. New Straits Times. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/01/561353/igp-police-know-where-riduan
 John Bunyan, “IGP: ‘Extradition operation’ too complicated to bring back Indira’s ex-husband Muhammad Riduan to Malaysia.” MalayMail.com. Malay Mail. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/09/11/igp-extradition-operation-too-complicated-to-bring-back-muhammad-riduan-to/1902261
 Yiswaree Palanisamy, “Nazri: We tracked more heinous criminals in the past, why not Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband?.” MalayMail.com. Malay Mail. Accessed October 20, 2020. https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/09/16/nazri-we-tracked-more-heinous-criminals-in-the-past-why-not-indira-gandhis/1903690