The Supreme Court held that the High Court cannot annul the marriage of an adult under Article 226.
Ms Akhila, a 25 year old converted to Islam, taking the name 'Hadiya' and thereafter, married a man named Mr. Shafin Jahan who also practiced Islam. Akhila says that she converted to Islam during her medical studies in Coimbatore before she met Shafin. After knowing of the marriage, Akhila’s father, Mr. K.M. Ashokan filed a Writ Petition in the Kerala High Court alleging that she was misled, misguided and forced to become a Muslim. He also alleged that Akhila’s husband has links with extremist Muslim organizations. Hadiya maintained through the High Court proceedings that her conversion to Islam as well as marriage to Shafin Jahan was of her own volition.
However, on 24th May 2017, Justices Surendra Mohan Kuriakose and Abraham Mathew of the Kerala High Court, called the marriage a ‘sham’ and annuled it. The judgment observed that “her [Hadiya’s] marriage being the most important decision in her life, can only be taken only with the active involvement of her parents” and ordered Hadiya to be sent to her parental custody despite her wishing against it.
Hadiya’s husband, Mr. Shafin Jahan approached the Supreme Court, challenging the annulment. On 8th March 2018, the 3 judge bench of Supreme Court set aside the annulment. On 9th April 2018, it delivered the judgment explaining the reasoning behind its decision.
Does the High Court have the power to annul the marriage of an adult under Article 226?