India Supreme Court restores inter-religious marriage annulled by lower court

Glen Norman
March 9, 2018

The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the order of the Kerala High Court annulling the marriage between Hadiya and Shafin Jahan.

Giving this indication a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Kanwilkar and DY Chandrachud also disapproved the Kerala High Court's order nullifying the marriage. The high court, while declaring the marriage as "null and void", had described the case as an instance of "love jihad" and ordered the state police to conduct probe into such cases.

Hadiya, born a Hindu, had converted to Islam to marry Jahan, setting off cries of religious conversion by the Hindu Right which termed it as 'love jihad'.

She was however not allowed to unite with her husband. The apex court also said that Hadiya can't be sent to anyone's custody.

Hadiya's father said he will consider to file a review petition in the court.

The Supreme Court overturned the order of a lower court and reinstated the marriage of the 24-year-old woman, who had converted to Islam and changed her name to Hadiya, from Akhila earlier. The court also reportedly said that Hadiya was free to pursue her future endeavours as per law. On November 27, last year, the Supreme Court had in its order directed that Hadiya be taken to Shivaraj, Homeopathy college at Salem, Tamil Nadu to continue and pursue her studies.

Her family alleged she was brainwashed as part of an anti-Hindu conspiracy, prompting a lower court to annul the marriage.

While upholding the marriage, the court however told the NIA that it could continue its probe into the Love Jihad case.

The high court then handed over Hadiya's custody to her father arguing that "As per Indian tradition, the custody of an unmarried daughter is with the parents, until she is properly married".

Hadiya's father, KM Ashokan, has refused to give up, and cited the NIA continuing the probe as proof that the investigative body thinks Shafin Jahan is a terrorist.

At the same time, the Supreme Court questioned if the Kerala High Court had the jurisdiction to annul the marriage of a Muslim man with a girl, a question it has answered today.

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