The Supreme Court has restored the marriage of Hadiya (earlier known as Akhila) and Shafin Jahan and set aside the Kerala High Court order, which had annulled the validity of their marriage. Granting "absolute liberty" to the 25-year-old, the top court, however, said that the ongoing probe by National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the criminal dimension of the case will continue, Bar And Bench reported. The NIA is looking into the "love jihad" angle of the case even though Hadiya has vehemently denied the charges. India Today, however, reported that the top court has said that marriage cannot be prosecuted or probed.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud passed the judgment after lunch on the plea filed by Shafin Jahan, challenging the Kerala High Court order.
The apex court ruled that the high court should not have annulled the marriage, following a Habeas Corpus petition, by exercising its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court bench also said that they had arrived at the decision after speaking to Hadiya, who said that she had willingly entered into the marriage.
In the course of the arguments on Thursday, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Shafin Jahan, submitted nine propositions of law to be addressed before looking into the case on facts.
He said that the right to choose a life partner is part of right to life and the marriage can only be dissolved by any one of the two in the marriage.
Asserting that in certain cases the high court can annul a marriage, senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for Hadiya's father KM Asokan KM, said "Hadiya's marriage with Shafin Jahan was to defeat the proceedings before the high court".
He said that all this was backed by well-oiled machinery which was alluring and trafficking people to Syria.
Observing that they (the couple) can't go without the passport and the government had powers to prevent them from leaving the country, the court asked if NIA investigation has found any offence against the couple.
The bench said on Thursday that Hadiya cannot be compelled to live with anyone. "Hadiya cannot be in anyone's custody." It ruled that Hadiya can complete studies and "freely follow her pursuits."
Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday, Hadiya's father said he "respects the court order but will seek legal recourse on the verdict".
"The verdict has only cleared that her marriage is in order. The court has asked for the NIA probe to continue as the larger question we raised is that Shafin Jahan is a terrorist," he told the media at his house near Kottayam in Kerala.
"We accept the apex court's order as the law has to be respected. A father is in pain to hear that his daughter has gone with a terrorist. We still maintain the marriage was stage-managed... We will seek legal recourse," Asokan said.
During the course of the hearing in Supreme Court, Hadiya had maintained that she voluntarily wanted to be with Shafin Jahan.
She had also told the apex court earlier that she had willingly converted to Islam and wanted to remain a Muslim. In January, when the Supreme Court had asked her about her dreams for the future, she had said, "I want freedom."
With inputs from agencies
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