Continuing the hearing in the contentious Kerala ‘love jihad’ case, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that the consent of the girl for the marriage is paramount as she is an adult by law.
The apex court also pulled up the National Investigative Agency (NIA) while hearing the case and said that no law prohibits a person from loving a criminal.
In the matter of the girl Hadiya alias Akhila, whose marriage to Shafin Jahan was annulled by the Kerala high court in May this year based on the complaint of her father who alleged that she had been unlawfully indoctrinated into Islam and held captive by her husband, the Supreme Court ordered the girl to be produced before it for an interaction on November 27.
The directive was issued to Hadiya’s father, who was given legal custody of Hadiya after the annulment of her marriage by the Kerala HC. Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan had petitioned the apex court to overturn the lower court’s decision to set aside their marriage.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it will interact with the 24-year-old girl in open court to take a preliminary assessment of her mental state. If any indoctrination is suspected, they will institute a detailed examination of the girl by appropriate authorities, the bench said.
The Supreme Court’s strong stand on the girl’s free will to go with anyone was diluted when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said there is a pattern of indoctrination in 89 such cases in Kerala.
Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh told the bench that the NIA found a systematic apparatus engaged in targeting and radicalising youth for jihad.
Singh said when a person is indoctrinated to hate her own religion and parents, there is little to determine whether free will was exercised.
Earlier, the NIA submitted a sealed cover report to the SC on the pattern emerging from the conversion of several young Hindu girls to Islam and how several persons had played a common role in convincing these girls to change their faith. The SC had asked the NIA to probe the ‘love jihad’ angle after the case of Hadiya came to light.