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SC asks if Kerala high court was justified in annulling Hadiya’s marriage

The Supreme Court bench asked whether there can be a roving inquiry into the issue of consent between two adults who have agreed to marry.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2018 23:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hadiya’s marriage,Love Jihad,Supreme Court
Hadiya at the Supreme Court after a hearing in New Delhi on November 27, 2017. (Vipin Kumar/HT file photo)

The government is free to prevent trafficking of women for terrorism and sexual comforts by extremists, but there cannot be a “roving inquiry” into a marriage between two adults, the top court said on Thursday.

The Supreme Court made the observation while hearing the petition of Shafin Jahan against a Kerala HC verdict that annulled his marriage with Hadiya, born Akhila Ashokan, who converted to Islam. “Whether a marriage is in the best interest of an individual, it is for that individual to decide,” a bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. The HC had observed in May last year that the marriage was a sham and put the spotlight on “love jihad”, a controversial term coined by fringe outfits to describe cases of what they believe are forced marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women. Hadiya’s father Ashokan KM has alleged that his daughter was converted to Islam forcibly.

Ashokan’s lawyer Shyam Divan said on Thursday that Hadiya was a “victim of an enormous trafficking exercise” and the marriage was rightly annulled.

“A young adult was sought to be trafficked outside of India and these are extremists groups with well-orchestrated networks based in the ISIS territory who employ these women to serve on the frontline or conduct suicide attacks. The women so trafficked are utilised for sexual comfort roles and raise the next generation of terrorists,” Divan said.

Read | Kerala love jihad case: Hadiya says she converted to Islam, married Muslim man of her free will

In response, the bench said: “If there was a trafficking of citizens involved and there is credible information, the government certainly has the power to stop it... But in personal law, we can’t annul marriage on the ground that she did not marry the right person.” Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, counsel for Jahan, countered Divan, saying it was the father who warned the woman that she would be taken to Syria and he did so to dissuade her from embracing Islam. The bench then told Divan that law will take care if there was any illegality. “What is troubling us is can there be a roving inquiry on a marital relationship between two consenting adults as to whether the marriage was consensual?”

Read | Hadiya family feud: A battle of rights vs relationships

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 14:06 IST