Kerala love jihad: Was HC justified in nullifying Hadiya's marriage, asks SC

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We are only restricting ourselves to the issue whether the High Court in a habeus corpus petition can declare marriage between two consenting adults as null and void.

A three-judge bench of CJI Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud questioned whether the Kerala high court could nullify a marriage between "vulnerable adults" after the father of the 25-year-old woman Hadiya justified the order.

The Supreme Court on Thursday will continue hearing in the controversial Hadiya case.

In January, the Supreme Court had said the NIA could investigate allegedly forced conversions, but no aspect of Hadiya's marriage. "She came to us and told that she married by her own choice", the bench said.

"If there was a trafficking of citizens involved and there is credible information, the government certainly has the power to stop it". If citizens were travelling overseas to be part of a manifest illegality, then too, the government had the authority to stop them.

Asokan's lawyer, advocate Shyam Divan, said the Kerala High Court's decision was correct. Can courts say according to us this consent to marriage is not in the best interest of the person? As far as marriage is concerned, it does not warrant any investigation.

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"Can a court say a marriage is not genuine or whether the relationship is not genuine?"

In November a year ago, Shafin Jahan, husband of Hadiya, had filed a complaint with the police, alleging that attempts are being made to reconvert his wife against her wishes, ahead of her appearance in the Supreme Court.

"She said on the telephone to her father that she wants to go to Syria to rear sheep".

The apex court directed the college to make arrangements for her hostel facilities and appointed the Dean of the university as her local guardian.

Asokan had alleged that his daughter Akhila, who changed her name to Hadiya after converting, was indoctrinated by a "well-oiled network" which trafficked girls to countries like Syria where they'd work as "sex slaves". "But in personal law, we can not annul marriages because she did not marry the right person", he added. The Court has adjourned the matter for further hearing till March 8.

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