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In ‘Love Jihad’ Case, SC To Speak to Kerala Woman Before Deciding Fate of Marriage

A Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar asked the NIA to investigate under guidance of its former judge R V Raveendran after the lawyers for the Muslim man, whose marriage was annulled by the Kerala High Court, gave their consent to the probe.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:August 16, 2017, 6:49 PM IST
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In ‘Love Jihad’ Case, SC To Speak to Kerala Woman Before Deciding Fate of Marriage
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New Delhi: Even as it handed over investigation into alleged cases of 'Love Jihad' to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Supreme Court made it clear that it will speak to the 25-year-old Hindu woman before deciding validity of her marriage to a Muslim man after her conversion to Islam.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar asked the NIA to investigate under guidance of its former judge R V Raveendran after the lawyers for the Muslim man, whose marriage was annulled by the Kerala High Court, gave their consent to the probe.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising, representing the petitioner husband, gave their consent to the NIA probe after the Court said it will definitely interview the woman before taking a final call.

“The counsel for the petitioner (husband) has no objection to the NIA taking over the investigation subject to this Court interviewing the girl…we make it clear that before hearing the matter finally, we shall require the presence of the girl and we will speak to her before taking a final call,” the bench, also comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, recorded in its order.

The order came after Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the NIA, favoured a probe into such cases. He contended that it was not an isolated case and there seemed to be a pattern.

“Materials collected by the state police give clear cut impression of a pattern. There are more cases of this kind. Entities and organisations involved in all such cases are common. Facts require investigation into the pattern. One charitable trust involved may have SIMI connections,” he said.

Appearing for the Kerala police which had been carrying out investigation following the order by the HC in May, senior lawyer V Giri, said, “the state has no objection if NIA is directed by this Court to take over”. Giri further informed that probe by the local police is still underway.

Sibal first objected to the NIA probe. “NIA has been making several U-turns in the recent past. It is one thing to say that NIA is an independent agency but I can say it that this may not be true. Let the state police conclude its probe and then this Court could consider its next step,” he argued.

Sibal also said that the bench must meet the girl and speak to her about her wishes before directing the NIA to investigate. He said that even a personal affidavit could be sought from her about her disposition.

But the bench replied that it would not want to pre-judge the issue by speaking to the woman at this stage. “A girl, who has completed her course in medicines, gives out three names when the High Court interviews her. Have you heard about this Blue Whale Challenge game? People are incited and convinced to do anything. So everything can happen. We are not assuming anything. We don’t want to pre-judge the whole issue by meeting her or seeking her affidavit at this stage,” replied the Court.

It told Sibal that a former SC judge could be asked to supervise the NIA probe to ensure fairness.

“We want to give equal opportunity to all. If after the NIA report, we come to a conclusion that she has rightfully converted and married, that's the end of the matter. However, if we arrive at a conclusion that she has been wrongly dragged into this, there will be a different conspectus. So, we will talk to her but only after we have all the inputs,” it added.

As Sibal sought some time to respond to the suggestion regarding the NIA probe, the bench said the petitioner should not waste this opportunity if he was interested in a fair investigation.

The Court then suggested former SC judge K S Radhakrishnan’s name but Sibal and Jaising objected. Finally, Justice R V Raveendran was entrusted with supervision of the NIA probe. The Court will take up the matter after the NIA submits its report.

The issue reached the apex court as Kerala-native Shafin Jahan challenged the annulment of his marriage by the Kerala HC, which ordered the state police to probe such cases. Jahan, who married a Hindu woman last December, had moved the SC, saying that it was an insult to the independence of women in the country.

On the other hand, Ashokan KM, the father of the woman, has alleged that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation. The girl has been in custody of the parents after the HC order.

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| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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