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Marriage of an Adult Woman Can't Be Nullified: SC in Kerala 'Love Jihad' Case

By: Utkarsh Anand

Edited By: Huma Tabassum


Last Updated: October 03, 2017, 13:10 IST

Representative Image. (Reuters)

Representative Image. (Reuters)

Questioning nullifying of the marriage of a Hindu woman who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, the Supreme Court said a father can’t have control over an adult woman’s choices.

New Delhi: In a twist to what is now popularly known as ‘Kerala Love Jihad’ case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said that “prima facie”, the High Court could not have nullified the marriage of a Hindu woman with a Muslim man after she converted.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra observed that it was a key question whether the Kerala HC had the jurisdiction to anull the marriage of a major woman after embracing Islam.

“Can the High Court under Article 226 (writ jurisdiction) nullify a marriage? Prima facie, we say it can’t,” observed the bench.

The Court also remarked that a father cannot have control over a 25 year old woman and that such a claim can’t be made in respect of a major.

“A father can’t say I will have control over her. After all she is a 24-25 year old lady,” observed the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.
Clarifying that the apex court will do whatever is right in law, the bench fixed the case for detailed hearing on October 9.

The case pertains to a 25 year old woman from Kerala, who married Shafin Jahan after converting to Islam. The HC nullified this marriage and ordered the state police to investigate into such cases. The HC also handed over the custody of the adult woman to her father.

Jahan challenged the annulment of his marriage in the Supreme Court and urged the Court to seek presence of the woman before it.

The Court, however, ordered a NIA probe into the matter on August 16 after the agency told the apex court that love jihad is for real. “There is a pattern to convert Hindu girls and get them married to Muslim men,” NIA told SC.

The court noted it has asked the specialised agency to weigh in for a “neutral and unbiased assistance” in the matter and to get a view on investigation carried out by the Kerala police after the May order by the HC.

“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,” the bench told advocate Harris Beeran, who appeared for the Muslim husband.

The Kerala government also did not oppose an NIA investigation into the matter.
Ashokan KM, the father of the woman, had alleged that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation.

Jahan, on the other hand, has premised his case on autonomy of women and her right to make choices in life.

NIA, in the meantime, has also submitted an interim report in the Court.
first published:October 03, 2017, 12:03 IST
last updated:October 03, 2017, 13:10 IST