Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

SC sets aside Kerala order that annulled Hadiya's marriage

SC sets aside Kerala order that annulled Hadiya's marriage

On Thursday, the Supreme Court restored Hadiya's marriage with Shafin Jahan after the Kerala High Court had annulled the same.

Shafin then moved the SC against the High Court verdict.

On a petition from Hadiya's father Asokan, Kerala High Court had annulled the marriage last May on the ground that Hadiya, who is in her mid-20s, had been brainwashed into marriage and radicalised.

With yesterday's order, the two will be deemed legally married and can live as a couple without being harassed by any state agency. "Respondent No.9, Hadiya alias Akhila Asokan is at liberty to pursue her future endeavours according to law", it said and added that NIA can continue its investigation.

The Kerala High Court had on May 24, 2017, termed Hadiya's marriage a "sham" and annulled it, directing her to return to her parents. "This is only an interim order, the final order is yet to come", she said. Pulling up the Kerala High Court for annulling Hadiya's marriage to Shafin Jahan, the apex court observed that Article 226 gives the extraordinary power to high courts to protect the constitutional rights and not to scuttle them. "However good or bad a marriage is, it could not be annulled by an HC", said a bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra. The agency filed a status report of its probe in the court and claimed that there was a "well oiled machinery" behind the conversion of Hadiya and other girls.

"Marriage, plurality and individual choices should be zealously guarded from state intervention".

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Months after converting to Islam in January 2016, Hadiya married Jahan, triggering allegations of forced conversion. "The court has no right to annul marriage between consenting adults". The bench also said that however good or bad a marriage is, the HC can not annul it, saying that "the state can not be allowed to enter into the marriage whether it approves of it or not". Justice DY Chandrachud asked. The Bench added, "Article 226 of the Constitution is for the objective of keeping alive constitutional rights and not to scuttle it, in this case the girl's free right to choose her partner".

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Additional solicitor-general Maninder Singh offered similar arguments on behalf of the NIA.

At this point, CJI Misra said: "How can we get into the question whether consent is free or not, specially when the parties are mentally sound?" "Investigate anything but marriage", the bench said.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Jahan, requested the court to not take any of the NIA's arguments at face value.

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