SC Decides to Meet Hadiya in Open Court on Nov 27
An interaction with the Supreme Court bench is likely to ascertain the Kerala woman’s mental state and whether or not she had given free consent to the marriage
New Delhi: The Supreme Court will meet Akhila, aka Hadiya —the 24-year-old at the centre of the alleged love jihad instance from Kerala — on November 27 in a bid to ascertain for itself whether she had converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan of her own “volition and desire.”
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra directed Hadiya’s father to produce her in open court, shrugging off his plea for an in-camera hearing. The father, through senior advocate Shyam Divan, also asked court to consider the National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigation before a decision.
Misra, however, assured the father that she would not be immediately sent back to her husband.
Divan said a radicalised, indoctrinated person cannot be said to have a free will. She was a pawn in a “huge organisational apparatus” to radicalise young persons in Kerala, he alleged. The man she claimed to have married had two criminal cases against him, Divan argued.
However, the CJI refused to budge from the decision, insisting that in a case involving a marital relationship, a court cannot annul marriage and send the girl back to her father.
“We will examine only the legal principles,” he said, which clearly state that a major girl can marry whoever she wanted to.
NIA, stresses on indoctrination and radicalisation in Kerala DIPAK MISRA, CJI
The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, refused to accept the NIA plea though Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh urged a look at its preliminary report before seeking the woman’s presence before it.
There cannot be valid free consent in a case of radicalisation and indoctrination, Singh argued, adding that there is such a pattern in 89 cases reported from Kerala. The Popular Front of India was involved in nine such cases and Hadiya’s alleged husband was also a PFI activist, said the ASG. “She’s been indoctrinated to hate her own religion and parents.”
The CJI said, the bench would “interact with the girl in open court to take a preliminary assessment of her mental state. If we suspect any indoctrination, this court has powers to direct her detailed examination by appropriate authorities.”
“There is nothing in law that stops someone from falling in love and marrying a criminal. We will not send the girl with her husband after speaking with her. We want to know whether she acted on her own volition and desire,” the CJI added. “Let the NIA continue its probe.”
Highlighting that this was a case of indoctrination, not the usual habeas corpus that necessitated a person’s presence, Singh said, “Constitutional courts respond to radicalisation. In the US and UK, courts respond well before a person crosses over to the realm of criminality. Courts cannot remain silent in plural societies.”