The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the Kerala High Court’s verdict to annul the marriage of Hadiya to a Muslim man after her parents alleged that she had been forced to convert to Islam. The court also asked if the father can question the rights of his 24-year-old daughter, Live Law reported.
The Kerala High Court had ordered Hadiya, known as Akhila before conversion, to be placed under her parents’ protective custody. On August 16, the Supreme Court had ordered the National Investigation Agency to look into the case of the woman’s alleged conversion.
“Can a High Court annul a marriage under Article 226?” Chief Justice Dipak Misra, who was hearing the petition, asked. “We will either appoint loco parentis [the legal responsibility of a person or organisation to take on duties of parents] or we will send her somewhere safe. The father cannot insist on her custody.”
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan, argued that the Supreme Court had “exceeded its jurisdiction”, Live Law reported.
“The NIA probe shakes the very foundation of this multi-religious country,” Dave said in his submission. The advocate further argued that two high functionaries of the Bharatiya Janata Party were married to women of the minority community. “Will you order an NIA probe into that?” Dave asked, according to Bar and Bench.
The Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court to file an affidavit in the matter. The case will be heard again on October 9.
Hadiya has denied that she was forced to convert. Her husband Shafin Jahan has claimed that Hadiya converted of her own volition, and the ruling was an “insult to the independence of women in India”. Jahan had moved the Supreme Court requesting to call off the investigation, alleging that the NIA “was not being fair”.