(G.N.S) Dt. 23
The marriage of Kerala woman Hadiya cannot be questioned and the National Investigation Agency cannot focus on it, the Supreme Court said today, referring to the case that came to be labelled as “love jihad” by right wing groups. The agency, the court said, can continue its investigation, but cannot question the legitimacy of the marriage of Hadiya, who was born a Hindu.
A marriage has to be separated from any criminal action, aspect or conspiracy, “otherwise we will be creating bad precedent”, said the bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
Hadiya’s marriage to a Muslim man, Shafin Jahan, was annulled by the Kerala High Court last year after her parents alleged that she had been brainwashed and forced to convert. Her father had said that she was being indoctrinated to be taken to Syria.
The allegation dovetailed with the right wing group’s concept of love jihad — the term accuses Muslim men of drawing Hindu women into relationships, converting them and eventually recruiting them for terrorism. Shafin Jahan was working in Oman and has returned recently. Hadiya had met him through a matrimonial website affiliated to an organisation, which the National Investigation Agency believes is linked to terror.
The NIA objected, saying the top court had asked it to check if vulnerable women were being preyed on and recruited as terrorists, and they have made sufficient progress. The agency had told the court earlier that it found an “emerging trend” in the conversions.
The court responded saying “We are not concerned with the NIA probe. You can probe anything, but not on marital status”.
Hadiya, the court said, is 24 years old. “She told us in court she is married. We can’t question the legitimacy of her marriage,” added the court, which had freed the young woman from her parents’ custody and sent her to complete her studies at a homeopathy medical college in Salem in November.
The top court had spoken to Hadiya after Shafin Jahan had appealed against the high court’s annulment order. “We will only examine whether the court can cancel the marriage,” the judges said today.