Love jihad: HC orders inquiry

Report to be submitted in three weeks

 
A division bench comprising Justices K Sreedhar Rao and Ravi Malimath directed to inquire into the circumstances of flight of a girl to Kerala and being kept in a madrasa for a month. The Bench deemed it necessary to investigate whether the girl’s decision to live with the boy was made with her free consent or under duress. It also handed over the custody of the girl to her parents during the three-week period of inquiry.

 The girl,  21-year-old Siljaraj, had disappeared on August 8, 2009. Her father, C Selvaraj received a call from Azkar of Kannur district, Kerala on Aug 15, stating that Siljaraj was with him and their marriage had been solemnised as per Mohammedan Law. A few days later, he received another call from one K M Parthi Kutty saying that his daughter had converted to Islam. When the father tried to meet the daughter on August 19, he was told that he could not meet her as she was in a madrasa. The girl was produced in the HC on Tuesday following a habeas corpus petition by the father. The counsel for the petitioner had claimed that the girl was being brainwashed. The petitioners had also sought custody of the girl. The girl had said that she was already married under Mohammedan Law and was now waiting for the marriage to be registered under the Special Marriage Act. She had denied that she was being held against her will in the madrasa.

Similar cases

The Bench, on Wednesday accepted the argument of the petitioner’s counsel, who referred to the judgement of the Kerala HC in a similar case, where two girls were found to have left their houses under similar circumstances. The counsel argued that the girls were handed over to their parents for two weeks, following which they did not wish to return to the madrasa. There are four cases pertaining to this particular madrasa in Ponnani taluk in  Kerala, the counsel said.

The Bench observed that the facts warranted a thorough police investigation into the antecedents of the respondents and other aspects of love jihad. “The girl being a major is free to marry anybody but the facts create suspicion with ramifications of national magnitude concerning national security, besides the question of unlawful trafficking. We deem it necessary that the DGP should get the matter thoroughly investigated and place the matter before the court,” it directed.

Taking strong exception to the submission that police could not enter the madrasa themselves and had to use a middleman to get the girl outside, the Bench and said that it was a startling revelation of the insurmountable difficulty the Karnataka and Kerala police had in gaining access to the girl.

On being shown the figures of the missing women and girls from 2003 to May of 2009, the Court observed, “the disgusting statistics show that the State has to do more”. It recommended the setting up of a special cell, exclusively to look into these cases. Statistics revealed that from January to May 31 of this year, 2,521 cases of missing women and girls were registered, out of which, 1,001 are yet to be traced. The matter has been adjourned to November 13.

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