Kerala conversion case: Supreme Court bars NIA from investigating Hadiya's marriage

Supreme Court of India. Credit Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Credit Reuters

The three-judge bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra however, permitted the NIA to probe all angles of the case after the agency told the SC that it has made substantial progress in its investigation into the alleged love jihad case. Following this order, Hadiya came out of the custody of her parents, under whom she has been under house arrest since May a year ago.

During the course of the hearing, Hadiya, who was born as Akhila Ashokan, also said she wanted freedom and to see her husband after the top court asked whether she would prefer to continue studies. "She is 24 years old", the SC said adding that the NIA can probe every other angle but her marriage.

However, Hadiya's father alleged that she was forcibly converted. But the legitimacy of Hadiya's marriage - which the Kerala high court annulled last May - is not the business of the NIA, the SC said. To this, the court said that the couple's marital status was not a matter for investigation.

The Supreme Court today said that the National Investigative Agency can not take a call on whether or not the marriage of Hadiya (a 24-year-old woman) and Shafin Jahan is legitimate. The court had termed the marriage as an instance of "love jihad", following which Jahan approached the Supreme court. The bench asked whether a high court can annul the marriage between two adults while exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226, Live Law reported.

Shafin Jahan and Hadiya.

Asokan, the father of Hadiya, had appealed for in-camera proceedings, but the Supreme Court declined his request.

"We make it clear that we are concerned about ongoing probe of NIA into "love jihad" cases and the only issue before us is legitimacy of the marriage which can not be challenged by third party", said the SC.

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