No criminal investigation into Hadiya marriage, SC tells NIA

No criminal investigation into Hadiya marriage, SC tells NIA

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said there can't be a criminal investigation into the marriage of an adult woman since it is a question of individual freedom and choice.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra orally told the NIA - probing instances of 'love jihad' and larger conspiracy into marriage of Kerala's Shafin Jahan with Akhila, a Hindu girl, who was renamed Hadiya - that it was her decision to get married to a particular person.

The court once again questioned the Kerala High Court's order of May, 2017, to annul their marriage on a plea by girl's father Asokan K M while entertaining a habeas corpus petition.

"She is 24 years. We can't go into her thinking process to decide if she has made an independent choice or not. We can't examine whether she was brainwashed. She has appeared before us and said it was her decision to marry the person," the bench, also comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

The court allowed a plea made by senior advocate Kapil Sibal to implead Akhila alias Hadiya as a party in the matter. It put the matter for further consideration on February 22.

Advocate Madhavi Divan, appearing for the girl's father, submitted that the marriage in her case was a device to legitimise her confinement with conversion institution. "We are concerned about her welfare. It is not a case where two people meet and agree to get married," she submitted.

"Marriage has to be separated from any aspect of criminal activity, otherwise, we will set a bad precedent. There can't be any inquiry into her marital status," the bench said.

The bench, however, said the NIA would continue its probe as directed on August 16.  

On November 27, after interacting with Akhila, the top court had set her free from parents' custody to pursue homoeopathy course in Salem.

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