Hadiya Jahan appears before SC: Top 10 developments in Kerala 'love jihad' case
The case, involving Hadiya's decision to marry a Muslim man and convert to Islam, has been at the receiving end of immense national attention
Almost a year after the Kerala High Court nullified 25-year-old Akhila Ashokan, alias Hadiya's marriage to Shafin Jahan, the judgement was reviewed by the country's apex court on Monday. The Supreme Court had earlier ordered an inquiry by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the merits of the case.
Hadiya with Shafin Jahan
The case, involving Hadiya's decision to marry a Muslim man and convert to Islam, has been at the receiving end of immense national attention. Both of Hadiya's choices were contested by her father, KM Ashokan, who has been of the opinion that his daughter was forced into them. Hinting towards the phenomenon of 'Love Jihad', he had earlier stated that his daughter had been "mentally kidnapped" and did not "have a mind of her own".
Here are the top 10 developments in the case thus far:
>> Akhila Ashokan is a native of Vaikom in south-west Kerala. She decided to pursue further education in Homeopathic Medicine from Salem, Tamil Nadu and stayed in a hostel with two roommates, her roommates Faseena and Jaseena. It was during this time that she disappeared. Subsequently, her father, Ashokan, filed a habeas corpus petition in the Kerala High Court stating that the roommates and their father, Aboobacker, had taken his daughter away.
>> After the petition was filed, Akhila appeared before the court on 19th January 2016 and informed that she had changed her name to Hadiya and converted to Islam. She also informed the court that she had taken up residence in Sathya Sarani, a conversion centre in Malappuram's Manjeri. The centre, which was noted for several cases of religious conversion, appointed Popular Front of India's Sainaba as Hadiya's guardian.
>> Following the dismissal, Ashokan filed another petition before the court expressing his fears that his daughter would be shipped outside India and made to join the Islamic State. His statements were also supported by a widely circulated video on social media of the telephonic conversation between the two, wherein Hadiya expressly states the possible plan.
>> The Kerala High Court, in turn, ordered that Hadiya be kept under surveillance. As an aftermath, Hadiya was shifted to a hostel in Ernakulam. The case took a major turn in the next scheduled hearing.
>> Hadiya appeared to have married Shafin Jahan on 19th December, the very day when the court was hearing the case. It was found that Sainaba was involved in the arranged marriage. The move was seen by the judges as an attempt towards subterfuge and concealment of facts. The court ordered that Hadiya's mobile connectivity be restricted and that she be sent back to the same hostel.
>> Meanwhile, Kerala police's investigation into the case unearthed Shafin Jahan's involvement in various criminal cases and his links to Sathya Sarini. It was also found that Jahan had just returned from the Middle East and had found Hadiya via a matrimonial site run by the Popular Front of India, a group which has been in the past linked to terror by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
>> As a result, a hearing in May saw the Kerala High Court annulling the marriage and branding it a staged episode to misguide the courts. Jahan, decide to appeal the judgement in the Apex court.
>> Before hearing the matter, the Supreme Court opined that it would take Hadiya's consent as an adult as the prime guiding factor. Shouting out to the media on her way to Delhi, Hadiya stated, "I am a Muslim. I was not forced. I want to be with my husband," the 25-year-old woman, wearing a headscarf, shouted as she was being taken to an airport in Kerala for departure to Delhi."
>> The matter was heard before the Supreme Court on November 27, 2017, in an open court by a three-judge bench including CJI Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar. While Shafin Jahan was represented by Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh appeared for the Centre and Advocate Shyam Divan and Madhavi Divan represented Hadiya's Father.
>> During the hearing, Hadiya expressed her willingness to continue her education with her husband's support. While the Supreme Court did not review the status of the marriage, it ordered that Hadiya be removed from her parents' custody and sent to college to pursue her studies. It also appointed the dean of the college as her new guardian.
The next hearing on the case is set to be held in the third weak of January 2018.
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