(On 23 January 2018, the Supreme Court finally acknowledged that Hadiya is entitled to make her own choices as an adult woman, and that the court could not interfere with her marriage unless she says she had been coerced. The NIA was told that their investigation would not have an impact on Hadiya’s marriage, and her father was told that he cannot interfere in her decisions. In light of this development, The Quint is republishing this video, which made the same arguments back in December, and warned of the dangerous precedent this could set.)
Can anyone, including the Supreme Court of India, question the actions of a grown adult woman who hasn’t broken the law?
Can unproved allegations of “indoctrination” become grounds to say an adult woman can’t make her own decisions?
Why did the Kerala High Court annul a marriage between two consenting adults which neither had objected to?
These are questions we should be asking about the Hadiya case – a case about an adult woman who converted to Islam of her own free will, and decided to marry another Muslim, Shafin Jahan, of her own free will, as stated numerous times.
Even though the Supreme Court has now plucked Hadiya out of the custody of her parents, and let her go back to college, it’s equally important to note what the Supreme Court did not do – which still suggests that this whole thing is still being treated the wrong way, and that all the wrong questions are still being asked.
What the Supreme Court Got Wrong in its Recent Order
First, while the Court responded to Hadiya’s wish to finish her studies, it ignored her wish to live with her husband while doing so.
Not addressing Hadiya’s relationship with Shafin is a huge problem, because it means that on paper, their marriage isn’t valid. An immediate consequence – it could be hard for her meet Shafin freely, if the college authorities so choose.
The Supreme Court also said that Hadiya should be “taken to Salem” to pursue her internship. Why taken? Why not say she is free to go to Salem to study, or to Goa for a holiday? Where she goes, how she goes, with whom she goes – surely that should no longer be any of the Court’s business!
If there was evidence that she would go and commit some crime perhaps they could restrict her movements. But what crime do they think she’s going to commit? What crime has she committed till now?
Then, the Supreme Court also notes that the NIA probe into the case will continue “In accordance with law, ” which is a joke. Doesn’t the Court know that the investigation has already been taking place without being headed by a retired Chief Justice – clearly defying the Supreme Court’s own instructions given in July?
The Supreme Court Could Have and Should Have Done More
Also, it is clear as day that the Kerala High Court had no authority to annul Hadiya and Shafin’s marriage, and that their judgment was blatantly, patently illegal. So why did the Supreme Court not overturn it in July itself when all this began, even though the law on this was and remains clear?
Instead, the court has put everything off till the NIA finishes its investigation, even though the High Court decision wasn’t even based on the NIA investigation.
And you know what, even if they were convinced that the NIA had something valuable to say, they could have still put a temporary stay on the annulment, and fully freed Hadiya from her parents.
By not doing this, the Court has set a dangerous precedent – that the government and the police and the courts can ignore your rights, without even trying to disguise it under some law.
That this can happen to a citizen of this country, despite all the media attention, is downright depressing.
But this isn’t over. Make some noise guys! Make it clear that you stand with Hadiya in solidarity, that you support her fight for freedom. And not just some drip-fed, indulgently granted freedom but the full-bodied freedom that our Constitution guarantees us!
Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam