New Delhi: The Supreme Court has cancelled a Kerala High Court order annulling the marriage of Hadiya, a 24-year-old Kerala woman who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man.
While restoring her marriage, the apex court said Hadiya was free to live with her husband Shafin Jahan and "pursue her endeavours", also mentioning that the Kerala High Court should not have intervened.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, however, said probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the criminal dimension into the case, if any, would continue.
The Kerala High Court had cancelled Hadiya's marriage with Shafin Jahan on a complaint by her father, who alleged that his daughter was a victim of ‘love jihad’, the term used by right wing groups for accusing Muslim men of drawing Hindu women into relationships, converting them and eventually recruiting them for terrorism.
Hadiya, a homeopathy student, was born Hindu and was Akhila Ashokan by birth before she converted to Islam and changed her name.
Hadiya's marriage to Shafin Jahan was annulled by the Kerala High Court in 2017 after her parents alleged that their daughter had been brainwashed and forced to convert to Islam in a plan by terror group ISIS to indoctrinate and take her to Syria.
Hadiya had met Shafin Jahan, who was working in Oman. Jahan had returned to India recently, through a matrimonial website affiliated to an organisation which the NIA says it is probing for links to terror.
Shafin and Hadiya claimed they met in August 2016 on a matrimonial website and married in December 2016.
The case made headlines when Hadiya's father approached the Kerala High Court claiming Shafin had terrorist connections.
The HC then termed the marriage a "sham", adding marriage isn't legally valid if conducted in the absence of parents and annulled the union.
In August 2017, Shafin took the case to the Supreme Court. Linking the case to right to life, liberty and religion. Shafin claimed it was "an insult to the independence of Indian women". He further claimed that Hadiya was being tortured by her family and urged the apex court to listen to her.
The top court asked the NIA to probe the marriage and ordered Hadiya to appear before the court.
When she testified in November 2017, Hadiya said she had married Shafin Jahan and converted to Islam of her own will.
She alleged she had endured "mental harassment and unlawful custody (at her parents' house) for 11 months".
She further told the apex court, "I want freedom. I am a Muslim and I want justice." She even said that she wanted to return to her husband Shafin.
Siding with the young couple, the SC has consistently maintained that two consenting adults have the right to decide whom to marry, irrespective of whether the State approves of it or not.
It observed the Kerala High Court should not have annulled the marriage in a habeas corpus petition.