Kerala government’s counsel V Giri said on Tuesday that the state had not changed its stand on the National Investigation Agency inquiry into the Hadiya conversion case. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court in October, the Kerala government had rejected the NIA’s claims that the Hadiya case was part of a “pattern of religious conversions and radicalisation” happening in the state.
In the affidavit, the state had said that there was no need for an NIA inquiry.
Twenty-four-year-old Hadiya, who was known as Akhila before her conversion to Islam, told the court on Monday that she wanted freedom and wanted to see her husband, Shafin Jahan. However, the court ordered that Hadiya could complete her degree in homeopathy at a medical college in Salem.
Hadiya had to wait for a few hours to depose as senior lawyers engaged in heated arguments on Monday. Shyam Diwan, the lawyer representing Hadiya’s father, and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, representing the NIA, asked the bench to postpone its interaction with Hadiya.
Hadiya’s conversion from Hinduism to Islam and marriage to a Muslim man led to a controversy and allegations of forced conversion. The Kerala High Court had annulled their marriage in May and had sent Hadiya to her father’s house, where she was confined so far.
In August, Jahan had moved the Supreme Court against the High Court’s decision. The Supreme Court, however, ordered the National Investigation Agency to look into the case of the woman’s alleged conversion. Weeks later, Justice Dipak Misra took over as chief justice of India from Justice JS Khehar. On October 3, the new bench, this time led by Misra, changed its stance by questioning the NIA investigation.
Media reports said that Giri supported the NIA when it pressed the Supreme Court to peruse its confidential report before listening to Hadiya, indicating a change in the Kerala government’s earlier stand. Giri said the idea was to not continue Hadiya’s custody but to ensure that her right to lead a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution was protected.
Media interpreted it as Kerala government’s support for the NIA investigation, but Giri denied this to Scroll.in. The counsel said he had merely suggested that the bench should look into the new material submitted to the court.
“I didn’t specifically mention that the court should peruse the NIA report,” he said. “Apart from NIA report, the materials included a few affidavits too. The government hasn’t changed its stand on the NIA investigation”.
Kerala Law Minister AK Balan told Scroll.in that he does not possess the details of proceedings in the Supreme Court. “I can comment only after getting the details,” he said.