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Love jihad case: Supreme Court to hear Hadiya Shafin in person

Hadiya Shafin, 24, is an adult, her consent is "prime" and she will be heard in an open court at 3 pm on November 27 to know whether she converted to Islam and married a Muslim by choice or she was compelled, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

The court overruled strong objections by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing Kerala's "love jihad" case, and the woman's father.

The homeopathic doctor's marriage had been annulled in May by the Kerala High Court on her retired military man father Ashokan KM's appeal after Akhila Ashokan converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan in December 2016. Her father had said the marriage was a form of recruitment by ISIS and she was to be sent to Syria.

Her husband has challenged the HC order and also a sanction given by the apex court to the NIA to probe allegations of Hindu women being lured by members of terror outfits.

On Monday, SC first directed Kerala's government to produce the woman. The father then undertook the responsibility to bring her to the court. "We call the person and question her. At the time, if we have any doubts that she was not free to make her choice... then we will take a final call," said the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

"Get me out of here? I am going to die. My father is getting angry," Hadiya had said in a video released last week.

"If a girl comes and says I don't want to stay with my father, what should the court do? We have to find out where she intends to stay," said the bench that also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud. As far as her marriage is concerned, it's a personal choice, the bench said. "It is our constitutional obligation to direct the production of the girl and ask her choice," the court said.

In response, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, representing the NIA, said: "In normal cases, yes, but not in cases of indoctrination." Here, Singh said, hypnosis was used as a method of radicalisation and the girl's mind was manipulated. "This is an exceptional case and there is no concept of free will," Singh added.

Singh further submitted that Akhila's case was not unique and Kerala was witnessing a trend of people joining ISIS. "Eighty-nine cases have been identified in Kerala so far and nine are the worst." Singh said. The ASG added that Akhila was indoctrinated by conversion organisation Sathya Sarini, and Popular Front of India, an Islamic fundamentalist organisation, was behind her radicalisation, and hence her "free consent" should not be considered.