Kerala 'love jihad' case: SC to examine HC power to annul Hadiya's marriage
Giving a new twist to the Kerala 'love jihad' case, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea by the husband of a woman who married him against the wishes of her parents as he is from a different religion, has said it will examine if a High Court has the power to quash a marriage.
The case concerns Kerala woman Akhila Ashokan’s conversion to Islam and her subsequent marriage to a Muslim man Shafin Jahan. She took the name of Hadiya after conversion.
Following a petition of habeas corpus by her father, the Kerala High Court in May had annulled her marriage, terming it a “sham” and directed her to return to her parents.
A Supreme Court bench in August had directed the NIA to probe the matter after the central probe agency informed the court that the Hadiya case was not an isolated cased and there could be more instances of “love jihad” in the state.
Jahan subsequently approached the apex court to appeal against the High Court order annulling his marriage. He also sought the withdrawal of the NIA probe into the marriage.
Hearing the petition, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra questioned if a High Court has the power to annual a marriage under Article 226 of the Constitution, which empowers a high court to issue writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibitions, quo warranto and certiorari, for the enforcement of any of fundamental rights.
Pondering if Hadiya could be forced to live with her parents, the bench said it may appoint a custodian for her.
Opposing the NIA probe, Jahan’s counsel contended that the apex court order in the matter hit the foundation of a multi-purpose religious society and was sending a wrong signal.
However, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta justified NIA probe saying it was imperative to ascertain if there existed a pattern of such conversion and marriages in the state.
While Hadiya has repeatedly asserted her conversion to Islam and marriage to Jahan was voluntar, her parents have been alleging otherwise. More so, with the RSS-BJP turning it into a political issue, claiming love jihad in the Left-ruled Kerala. the case snowballed.
The apex court bench said it will hear Jahan’s petition seeking recall of the NIA order and gave the investigative agency time to file its reply by 9 October when the matter will heard next.
BJP in Kerala
The Supreme Court’s observation came on a day when BJP president Amit Shah flagged off the Janaraksha Yatra to mobilise masses against “Marxist-Jihadi” violence in Kerala.
The BJP-RSS has been up in arms against the Pinarayi Vijayan led Left government alleging Jihadi elements enjoying state patronage were flourishing in Kerala.
In its bid to reach out Hindus, its core vote base, the saffron brigade has been harping on the danger of 'love jihad', where non-Muslim women are allegedly lured into relationships where the underlining motive is said to be a forceful conversion to Islam.