Court orders Hadiya to give ev­i­dence

Court says only Hadiya, whose mar­riage to a Mus­lim was an­nulled by a lower court, has right to de­cide her fate

Gulf News - - India -

In­dia’s Supreme Court has or­dered a 24-year-old woman whose mar­riage to a Mus­lim man was an­nulled at her Hindu fa­ther’s re­quest to give ev­i­dence in per­son, say­ing only she could de­cide her own fate.

The de­ci­sion to an­nul the mar­riage and force the woman, Akhila Ashokan, to re­turn to live with her par­ents has caused out­rage among women’s rights cam­paign­ers in In­dia.

Ear­lier this year, Ashokan’s fa­ther asked the high court in the south­ern state of Ker­ala to an­nul the mar­riage, claim­ing she had been forced into it and made to con­vert to Is­lam.

The high court agreed, but her for­mer hus­band chal­lenged the de­ci­sion in the Supreme Court, which on Mon­day ruled that Ashokan should ap­pear in per­son to give ev­i­dence on Novem­ber 27.

It ques­tioned whether the lower court had the le­gal right to an­nul a mar­riage be­tween two adults.

In­ter-re­li­gious re­la­tion­ships are still a taboo in In­dia, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas.

The is­sue has be­come a flash­point for na­tion­al­ists in re­cent years, with Hindu ex­trem­ists rais­ing fears that young Mus­lim men were at­tempt­ing to se­duce Hindu women in or­der to con­vert them.

House ar­rest

Ashokan mar­ried in De­cem­ber last year af­ter con­vert­ing to Is­lam and chang­ing her name to Hadiya. She has not been al­lowed to leave her fa­ther’s house since the mar­riage was an­nulled in May.

The fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions agency has said it is look­ing into her hus­band Shafin Ja­han’s links to ex­trem­ist groups. But he has not been con­victed of any crime.

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