Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Thursday asked whether the court could interfere when two consenting adults say they married at will. Misra made the statement while hearing the case of Hadiya, whose conversion from Hinduism to Islam and marriage to a Muslim man set off a political and legal maelstrom.
“We cannot say this marriage is not in her best interest,” the bench said, according to News18. “We cannot decide whether it is a right choice. We cannot annul a marriage on the ground that the person she has married is not the right person.”
Her father, Asokan K.M., alleged that she was indoctrinated by a “well-oiled network” who is a front to recruit Indian citizens and traffick them abroad to strife-prone countries like Syria to work as “sex slaves”.
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The supreme court adjourned the matter for further hearing till March 8, news agency ANI reported.
Stating that she had embraced Islam and married on her own free will, Hadiya had on Tuesday filed an affidavit before the apex court seeking its permission to live with her husband Shefin Jahan. Earlier in January, the Supreme Court had said it cannot question Hadiya’s choice of husband and directed the NIA to not probe her ‘marital status’.
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The woman, a Hindu, had converted to Islam and later married Shefin Jahan. It was alleged by her family that the woman was recruited by Islamic State’s mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge.
Hadiya was in the custody of her parents for almost six months after the Kerala High Court had on 29 May anulled her ‘nikah’ with Jahan.
Ashokan KM, the father of the woman, has alleged that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation. Earlier on Tuesday, Ashokan welcomed the Supreme Court decision allowing his daughter to pursue her studies.
The apex court has appointed the dean of the college as Hadiya’s guardian and granted him liberty to approach it in case of any problem. She was earlier staying at her parental home in Kochi for several weeks.
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Hadiya, earlier known as Akhila Ashokan, had said that she is a Muslim and nobody forced her to convert to Islam.
“I want justice. I married Shefin Jahan and converted to Islam as per my wish and nobody has forced me to do so. I want to live with my husband,” Hadiya told media persons at the Kochi airport on Saturday.
Chaotic scenes prevailed as mediapersons, who tried to approach her, jostled with the policemen after she reached the airport.
Accompanied by her parents K M Ashokan and Ponnamma and a police team including women personnel, she left for Delhi amid tight police security to appear before the Supreme Court on Monday.
Though Ashokan and family had earlier planned to go to Delhi by train, the police asked them to take a flight in the wake of security threats.
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Hadiya’s husband Shefin Jahan had on 20 September approached the apex court seeking recall of its order directing the NIA to investigate the controversial case of conversion and marriage of Hadiya.
She was not permitted to speak to the media at the airport in Coimbatore.