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Posted at: Mar 9, 2018, 1:45 AM; last updated: Mar 9, 2018, 11:15 AM (IST)

SC restores Hadiya’s marriage, her ‘right’

NIA probe into ‘systematic conversion’ to continue
SC restores Hadiya’s marriage, her ‘right’
A file photo of Hadiya and husband Shafin Jahan.

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8

The Supreme Court today set aside a Kerala High Court order that annulled the marriage of Akhila Asokan, alias Hadiya, with Shafin Jahan — that was termed as an instance of “love jihad”, creating a political storm in the state.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra — which had in August last year ordered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the matter — however made it clear that the agency would carry on with its probe into the alleged larger conspiracy of systematic religious conversion for “love jihad” funded by foreign agencies.

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Akhila converted to Islam, became Hadiya, and married Shafin Jahan, but their marriage was annulled by the Kerala High Court on May 25, 2017. While hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by her father KM Asokan, a Division Bench of the High Court had termed their marriage a “sham” and placed her in the protective custody of her parents. Jahan challenged the HC verdict in the top court.

On November 27 last year, the top court sent her back to her Homoeopathic Medical College in Tamil Nadu from her parents’ custody, saying the HC should not have annulled the marriage in habeas corpus proceedings initiated by her father.

The Bench, which pronounced the operative part of its verdict this afternoon, based its order on the statement by Hadiya, who appeared before it in November and stated that she married Jahan of her own volition.

“Hadiya is free to pursue her future endeavours in life according to law,” said the Bench, which also included Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.

Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh and senior counsel Shaym Divan contended that it was necessary that the consent be direct and free for a valid marriage. But the Bench said, “We cannot go into the neurological aspect of consent. The purpose of Article 226 is to keep a right alive and not to strangle a right.” 

On behalf of Jahan, senior counsel Kapil Sibal contended that the HC could not have suo motu proceeded to nullify a marriage in habeas corpus proceedings. No third party could move court in respect of marriage between two consenting adults, he added.

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