By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it clear that NIA could continue with its probe into the alleged love jihad case of Kerala but it cannot investigate the marital status of the man and the woman.
“How can we say the marriage is not valid when she says she married someone on her own? She can choose independently. She is 24 years old. You can probe into all aspects except marital status,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
“Marriage has to be separate from criminal activity, otherwise we will be creating a bad precedent in law,” said the bench adding that whether the person she married was a good human or not cannot be probed.
The court had last year ordered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the matter.
“We are asking whether High Court can annual a marriage of an adult girl of her choice. If an adult says she is married out of her own free consent, how can one contest that marriage?
“National Investigation Agency cannot take the umbrella of court order to investigate the marital status,” the bench observed.
On behalf of Akhila’s father, advocate Madhavi Divan said marriage cannot be seen in isolation and said, “Please note that she was not married at the time of filing of petition (by her father) in the high court. The marriage was only a device to legitimise her illegal confinement.”
This led Justice D Y Chandrachud to intervene, “You may be right that the marriage is solely a devise. But once she says that she is married, we cannot question the legitimacy of her choice.”
Akhila had converted to Islam, became Hadiya and married Shafin Jahan but their marriage was annulled by the Kerala High Court on May 25, 2017.
A division bench of the Kerala High Court had termed Akhila’s marriage with Shafin Jahan a sham and placed her under the protective custody of her parents. Shafin Jahan had challenged the high court verdict in the apex court.
On November 27, the court had sent her back to her Homeopathic Medical College in Tamil Nadu to complete her internshipfrom her parents custody after hearing her account.
She had then told the bench, “I want freedom, I have been under mental stress for 11 months.”
“She may have been brainwashed. But what can we do? Whether she made an independent choice or not only she can tell.
“If she comes to court and says she has married someone by her choice, that’s the end of it,” said the CJI and fixed the case for February 22 and also made Hadiya a party to the case.
“She is an adult. She appeared before us and said she is married. What can the court do? We can’t get into the legitimacy of the marriage. Legitimacy of marriage can be questioned only by her or the man,” the bench said.