The Kerala government on Saturday rejected claims made by the Centre’s National Investigation Agency that the Hadiya case – in which a Hindu woman was allegedly forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man – was part of a pattern of religious conversions in the southern state, The Hindu reported.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the state government said the Kerala Police had been doing an efficient job investigating the Hadiya case till the Supreme Court intervened in August and transferred the investigation to the central agency. The government said the police inquiry did not reveal any offences that warranted an NIA investigation.

The Kerala Police is competent to investigate such a case and would have reported to the Centre if they found any scheduled offence, the government said in its affidavit, according to ANI.

The state also questioned the sudden transfer of the case to the NIA, according to the report in The Hindu. It told the Supreme Court that the police are investigating whether Hadiya was forced to convert, the religious institutions and people involved as well as the background of the man she married, Shafin Jahan.

The case

Hadiya, formerly Akhila Ashokan, converted to Islam and married Jahan in 2016. In May, the Kerala High Court annulled the marriage, acting on a petition filed by her father, who claimed that Muslim organisations planned to take her abroad to get her to join the Islamic State group. The High Court moved Hadiya to her father Ashokan’s house in Kottayam district, where she has since been confined.

In August, Jahan moved the Supreme Court against the High Court’s decision to annul the marriage. This led to another controversial order, with the court asking the NIA to investigate whether this was a case of organised radicalisation. On August 16, when the case was transferred to the NIA, then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar told the Kerala government counsel that they had asked the NIA for inputs as they feared the Kerala Police “may take sides”.

On October 3, however, the Supreme Court bench, this time led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, changed its stance by questioning the NIA investigation. Misra also found that the Kerala High Court had no authority to annul the marriage.

“The order for NIA investigation strikes at the very foundation of multi-religious society...Two senior BJP functionaries have married members of minority communities,” senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Haris Beeran, representing Jahan, had argued. The apex court had further questioned the legality of the woman’s father keeping her in his custody for the past several months.

The case will be heard again on Monday.