Kerala ‘love jihad’ case: Hadiya’s lawyer says she is entitled to make decisions about her life
Hadiya’s decision to convert from Hinduism to Islam to marry her lover was legally challenged by her parents, triggering a debate over parental control and individual liberties.Updated: Nov 27, 2017 16:26 IST
Hadiya, a 24-year-old Hindu woman from Kerala who converted to Islam to marry, arrived at the Supreme Court Monday to give her statement. Her decision to convert has kicked up a countrywide debate over individual liberties, parental authority and so-called “love jihad”.
Born Akhila Ashokan, Hadiya married Shafin Jahan without her family consent last December. Her father, retired military man Ashokan KM, approached the high court in May, alleging in his petition that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation that had trapped his daughter.
The Kerala HC struck down Hadiya and Shafin’s marriage, calling it a “sham”, but the husband moved the Supreme Court, which in its last hearing on October 30 said Hadiya’s consent as an adult is “prime”.
Lawyer Kapil Sibal appearing for Shafin, told the Supreme Court that since Hadiya was present, the court should listen to her and not the National Investigation agency (NIA), which is probing her conversion, and that she is entitled to make decisions in her life.
The NIA submitted a 100-page probe report to the court.
At the heart of the matter is whether Hadiya’s parents have the power to override her decision. The Union government has said parental authority can be invoked in cases where someone is manipulated or indoctrinated.
The SC said that before examining the love jihad issue, it would like to ascertain if Hadiya had voluntarily converted to Islam.
On Saturday, as Hadiya left Kerala to appear before the apex court in New Delhi, she said out loudly to mediapersons that she wanted to stay with her husband.
But Hadiya’s parents are certain that she has been indoctrinated.
The SC has asked the NIA to investigate the Hadiya’s conversion, an order that her husband wants recalled.
The NIA, in an earlier report, has pointed to a “pattern” involving conversion to Islam and marriages in Kerala. On November 18, an NIA team arrived at her home for the second time and took statements from her and her parents to present their case before the court.