Hadiya Case Adjourned to 8 March, SC Questions Marriage Annulment
The Supreme Court was unimpressed by Hadiya’ father’s argument that she was a “vulnerable adult”.
The Supreme Court, on 22 February, adjourned the Hadiya case to 8 March, giving time for the NIA and her father to respond to Hadiya’s affidavit which was submitted to the Court on 21 February.
In her affidavit, Hadiya, who was finally impleaded as a party to the case at the last hearing in January, stated:
“I embraced the faith/religion of Islam on my choice as per my conscience and on my own free will after studying about Islam and thereafter I married a person, namely Shafin Jahan, the Petitioner herein, from the same faith as per my choice and on my own free will.”
She denounced the allegations against her, that she is mentally unsound and has developed connections with terrorists. She hinted that her father may have been influenced to take this stance against her. She also revealed that she was under surveillance despite being back at college and asked that her “entire liberty” be restored.
Court Not Impressed With Father’s Vulnerability Argument
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who is heading the bench hearing the case, reiterated that the issue before the Supreme Court was about whether or not courts can annul a marriage between two consenting adults. The bench asked:
“Can the High Court nullify a marriage between two consenting adults?”
Shyam Divan, representing Hadiya’s father Asokan, argued that the court should consider the NIA report and investigation into ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, and the way in which girls were being radicalised and then married off. He claimed that the Kerala High Court had been right to annul Hadiya’s marriage even though she was an adult, because she was vulnerable, and the courts can exercise parens patriae jurisdiction in such cases.
The CJI was not taken with this argument, however, noting that ‘vulnerability’ was subjective and that the law cannot be based on such a concept. Despite this, he did not stay the Kerala High Court’s annulment of the marriage.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Hadiya and Shafin, also stated that Hadiya’s father was making false statements to the Court. Asokan claims Hadiya had said during a telephone conversation that after her conversion to Islam, she would move to Syria to rear sheep. Sibal argued that she had never said anything of the sort, and that it was Asokan who had mentioned this in a conversation at some point.
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