Hadiya Case: SC Says NIA Probe Cannot Affect Validity of Marriage
 A marriage under court scrutiny. Hadiya Jahan, known as Akhila Ashokan before she converted to Islam, married Shafin Jahan in December 2015. 
A marriage under court scrutiny. Hadiya Jahan, known as Akhila Ashokan before she converted to Islam, married Shafin Jahan in December 2015. (Image Altered by The Quint)

Hadiya Case: SC Says NIA Probe Cannot Affect Validity of Marriage

The Supreme Court on 23 January 2018 said that the NIA’s probe into the Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ case will not affect the validity of Hadiya Jahan’s, aka Akhila Ashokan’s, marriage to Shafin Jahan. Bar & Bench quoted the Supreme Court as stating:

We cannot go into the validity of her marriage. How can we say marriage is not valid when she says she is married? She can choose independently. She is 24 years old. We cannot go into the marriage, whether the person she married is a good human being or a bad human being.
Supreme Court

The case, which is centred around the marriage and alleged forced religious conversion of 24-year-old Haidya, was heard by the apex court on 23 January 2018. It is posted for further hearing on 22 February 2018.

The SC observed that they cannot club or combine criminal law issues with the question of whether Hadiya’s marriage to Shafin Jahan is valid or not. As a result, the bench said that the NIA probe would make no difference to the status of Hadiya and Shafin’s marriage.

The NIA can investigate all other aspects except marriage. Marriage has to be separate from criminal activity, otherwise we will be creating a bad precedent in law.
Supreme Court

The court decided to make Hadiya a party to the case to get her view on the marriage. It added that they only need Hadiya’s view on the marriage to decide whether or not it should be annulled.

Hadiya’s father’s contentions, raised through senior advocate Shyam Divan, were dismissed since she is not a minor and was not in 2015 either, when the marriage took place.

In January 2016, Hadiya’s father had filed a petition with the Kerala High Court alleging that his daughter Akhila had been "forcefully converted” to Islam. On 16 August 2017, he filed an interim petition, in which the NIA was made a respondent, claiming that his daughter could be taken away to Syria to join ISIS and terrorist training groups by certain individuals assisted by Muslim organisations, such as the Popular Front of India (PFI) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI).

Also Read : Here’s Why NIA Demanded the SC Let it Probe ‘Love Jihad’ in Kerala

The Kerala High Court had annulled Hadiya’s marriage to her husband Shafin Jahan in December 2016. A year later, the Supreme Court ruled that Hadiya was free to meet whoever she desired and allowed her to complete her medical school internship, while also allowing the NIA to continue its probe into allegations of “religious conversion.”

In December 2017, the NIA had questioned Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan, in connection with the probe into the alleged forced religious conversion and ‘love jihad’.

Also Read : NIA Questions Hadiya’s Husband Again Days After SC Hearing

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