Conversion conflicts

SC orders Kerala Police, Hadiya’s father to produce her in court on November 27

The Supreme Court held that a woman’s consent as an adult is the most important aspect to consider in a case.

A woman’s consent as an adult is the most important aspect to consider in a case, the Supreme Court said on Monday after hearing the Hadiya matter, ANI reported. The case from Kerala involves a woman whose father alleged that she was forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam to marry a Muslim man.

“In a habeas corpus matter, the consent of the girl is the most important aspect,” Chief Justice Dipak Misra said. In May, the Kerala High Court had placed Hadiya in her parents’ custody.

The court is also believed to have held that there was no need for an investigation into the case, which is based on a petition filed by Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan. He had challenged the High Court order annulling their marriage on charges of “love jihad”.

In its argument, the Centre said parental authority can be invoked in cases where someone is believed to have been manipulated or indoctrinated, the Hindustan Times reported. “Consent is manipulated by indoctrination and radicalisation,” the NIA said, according to News18. “In fact, people with hypnotic expertise have been employed to manipulate young women.”

The Supreme Court, however, held that marriage was a personal affair and such individual cases should not be interfered with. “There is no law stating that a person cannot marry a criminal,” it said.

The bench has asked Hadiya’s father and the Kerala Police to produce her before the court at 3 pm on November 27, when the case will be heard next. The judges also refused her father’s plea seeking to hold in-camera proceedings in the case on November 27 and said the case will be heard in an open court, ANI reported.

The court passed the order despite objection from Additional Solicitor General Majumder Singh, representing the Centre, and lawyer Shyam Divan, who was appearing for Hadiya’s father.

“I will produce Hadiya before the court on November 27,” her father Ashokan said.

On October 9, the bench had adjourned the hearing after objecting to the “high pitched, politically coloured” arguments made by Jahan’s lawyer Dushyant Dave. Earlier in the month, the Kerala government had rejected the National Investigation Agency’s claims that Hadiya’s case was part of a pattern of religious conversions in the state. It said the police had been doing an efficient job investigating the matter till the Supreme Court intervened in August and transferred the case to the central agency.

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