The seventh day of hearing commenced in the case before the 3 judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.M. Khanwilkar. This case will decide if the High Court has the authority to annul the marriage of an adult on suspicion of ‘indoctrination’.
On 30.10.2017, the NIA and Hadiya’s father had contended that she couldn’t be allowed to live with her husband, Mr Shafin Jahan, as her consent to marriage was coerced and part of a larger Islamic conversion agenda. However, the court directed Hadiya to appear in the Court and make her statements on the matter. On 27.11.2017, Ms Hadiya appeared in court and stated her will to continue her studies, and prayed to be granted her freedom. The court directed her to go back to Salem to pursue her studies and appointed the Dean of the University to be her local guardian.
Today, Mr Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mr Shafin Jahan, requested the Supreme Court to allow for the investigation to continue under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge, Justice R.V. Raveendran as previously ordered. The bench told Mr Sibal that at this point they were not concerned with the investigation, which was a different issue. The issue to be looked into by the Supreme Court was whether a High Court could annul the marriage between two adults while exercising its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
When the Counsel for Mr Ashokan (Hadiya’s father) argued that the circumstances leading to the marriage must be investigated, the court emphasised that Hadiya’s marital status could not be looked into by the Court. Being a 24-year old adult, Hadiya had the power to make her own decisions, and the Court could not compel her to go to her father or husband against her will. Neither could the Court look into the character of the person Hadiya had married. The bench reiterated that investigating the marriage in such a manner would set a bad precedent in law.
Hadiya has now been made a party to the proceedings as per the request of Mr Kapil Sibal. She can now file her own response. The matter has been listed to be next heard on 22nd February 2018.