The Indian Supreme Court gave Hadiya an invaluable Women's Day present this Thursday, by setting aside the Kerala High Court order that annulled her marriage to Shafin Jehan. The apex court showed respect for an adult woman's choice of life partner and religion, a remarkable move in a patriarchal society where a woman's consent has so far had little or no relevance.
Hadiya's father Asokan had earlier approached the police claiming Hadiya was brainwashed into converting to Islam. His allegation ranged from Love Jihad to the conspiracy to turn Hadiya into a sex slave for ISIS! The National Investigation Agency started probing allegations and the Kerala High Court showed utter disregard for an adult woman's choice by calling her marriage a “sham”. The Kerala HC not only annulled her marriage, but also awarding her custody to her parents.
The Bench comprising Justice Surendra Mohan and Justice Abraham Mathew had made some controversial observations like: “a girl aged 24 years is weak and vulnerable, capable of being exploited in many ways” and “her marriage being the most important decision in her life, can also be taken only with the active involvement of her parents.”
The matter eventually wound up in the Supreme Court when Hadiya’s husband challenged this decision. The SC finally heard from Hadiya in person in November 2017 where she not only reiterated that she married Shafin of her own free will, but also insisted that she converted to Islam without any influence or pressure. The SC directed that Hadiya be sent to Shivraj Homeo Medical College in Salem to complete her education. Last month Hadiya sought the court’s permission to live with her husband.
But on March 6, her father Asokan came up with a new conspiracy theory naming new people who allegedly influenced and brainwashed Hadiya and planned to sell her as a sex slave in Yemen. He continued to reiterate that despite being an adult Hadiya was unable to take any decisions about her life and needed guidance. However, the court took note of Haiya’s choice and restored her marriage and stated in it March 8, 2018 order:
“Hadiya alias Akhila Asokan is at liberty to pursue her future endeavours according to law.”
The entire order can be read here.
While Hadiya’s marriage to Shafin Jehan was restored on Thursday, the NIA investigation into cases of fake marriages conducted on the pretext of supplying sex slaves to Middle Easter terrorists will continue.