The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Kerala Police to share with the NIA the probe details of a case wherein a Muslim man’s marriage to a Hindu woman was annulled by the Kerala High Court, which termed it a “love jihad”.
A division bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud took serious note of the man’s objection to sharing of the records with the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“We want the whole picture. Let the whole picture come before us. Why should anybody doubt the NIA? Are you doubting the NIA? It’s a government agency. We asked them to assist us,” the bench told the man’s counsel.
The bench said it gathered the “impression that the petitioner (husband) does not desire the correct and independent view of the controversy” to be brought before the apex court.
“We wanted to see whether it is an isolated case or a larger issue is involved,” the bench said.
The apex court asked the Kerala Director General of Police to share the records of investigation conducted so far with the NIA so as to “enable them be alive to the situation at present”.
The bench said it has asked the specialised agency to weigh in for “neutral and unbiased assistance” in the case.
“If there are issues going beyond the purview of Kerala, they should be able to assist us. Is this a small pocket individual issue or is it an issue that has wider ramifications that should concerns us? We want them to help us in this determination,” said the bench.
The court, however, allowed the man to file a response on the NIA plea that sought the court’s direction to the police to allow it to access to police records relating to the case investigation.
The Kerala High Court on May 25 had declared as “null and void” the marriage of a 24-year-old Hindu woman, who converted to Islam to wed a Muslim man in December 2016, terming it a “sham” and ordered Hadiya, as she is now known, be placed in her parents’ protective custody.
Her husband Shafin Jahan, 27, challenged the High Court order in the top court, saying the order was an “an insult to the independence of women in India”.
Approaching the Supreme Court with a request to order Hadiya’s father to produce her in court, he had claimed she had converted to Islam of her own volition two years prior to their marriage.
Hadiya’s father, however, had said that she was a “helpless victim” trapped by a “well-oiled racket” which used “psychological measures” to indoctrinate people and convert them to Islam.
Jahan is a criminal and his daughter was trapped by a network with connections to Popular Front of India and even the Islamic State, the father’s lawyer had said.
Hadiya, earlier known as Akhila, was a homeopathy student in Kerala when she converted to Islam and changed her name. Jahan had met her with his family in August 2016 in response to her posting on a marriage website and they got married last December.
But in August 2016 itself, her father had approached the high court with a habeas corpus petition, alleging his daughter had been radicalised by some organisations and they also influenced her to marry a Muslim man so that she is out of the parents’ custody forever.
He had also apprehended that there could be a scheme to send her to Syria to work with extremist organisations such as the IS since the man she married had been working in the Gulf.
The High Court, saying that “national interest is at stake”, had asked the state police chief to conduct an investigation into cases of ‘love jihad’ and probe incidents of forced conversions.
Love jihad is a term used by right-wing Hindu groups to describe inter-faith marriages which they say is an Islamist conspiracy to convert Hindu women through marriage or coercion.