Hadiya case: No probe into marriage, says SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said there can't be a criminal investigation into marriage of an adult woman since it is question of individual freedom and her 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 as Hadiya, that it was her decision to marry 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 haebus corpus petition.

"She is 24-year old. If she has made an independent choice or not, we can't go into her thinking process. 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, appearing for Shafin Jahan, to make Akhila alias Hadiya as respondent 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 devise 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 the parents' custody to pursue homeopathy course in Salem.

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