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Kerala “Love Jihad” Case: SC gives Hadiya free choice; says investigating marriage will set bad precedent

Another page got added to “Love Jihad” history as the Supreme Court of India on Tuesday categorically rejected the question of National Investigating Agency (NIA) probing marital status of Hadiya and Shafin Jahan saying everything except marital status can be probed by NIA as it will set a bad precedent in law.

The three-judge bench of the top court headed by CJI Dipak Misra giving Hadiya a free choice to decide about her rights and blocking any chance of NIA to probe legitimacy of marriage observed rather tersely that “She has told us about her marriage. She is an adult. She is 24-years-old and has every right to choose for herself. You [NIA] can probe into anything but marital status. Legitimacy of marriage should be left to her or the man [Shafin] as only they can question it.”

The Court coming clear on separation of marriage from “criminal action” or “conspiracy” said that marriage has to be separated from such things and only Hadiya has the right “to decide on her choices”. The Supreme Court further said that the NIA probe may be investigating overall conversions to Islam and pattern like that but it will have no bearing as far as the legitimacy of marriage between Hadiya and Shafin Jahan goes.

The observations were made be the top court while hearing Shafin Jahan’s plea against Kerala High Court annulling his marriage with Hadiya. Hadiya’s father had earlier alleged that Hadiya was forcibly converted to Islam and was misled. The Apex Court not delving into Hadiya’s choice of marriage observed that an adult woman cannot be forced to live with her parents and can decide on her own about her choices.

Hadiya’s marriage with Shafin Jahan had created ragging controversy as it was seen as case of “Love Jihad”. “Love Jihad” is a controversial term rather a blend of quite opposing words that is coined to describe cases of forced conversions and marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women.

The Supreme Court had earlier ordered a probe by the NIA into the matter on NIA’s claim that it was not an isolated incident of “love jihad” but a pattern that was emerging in Kerala.

The Supreme Court fixed February 22 as next date of hearing in the case.

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