The Supreme Court on Monday directed production of a 24-year-old Hindu girl from Kerala before it on November 27. Her inter-faith marriage to a Muslim man was annulled by the state High Court describing it to be a case of "Love-Jihad".
A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the court will go by language of law and not impulse or pulse of society. "This court shall speak to her not in camera but in open court," the bench said.
Hearing a plea by her husband Shafin Jahan against the HC's order, the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the court preferred to interact with the Hindu girl, who has been staying in the custody of her parents after the HC's order.
The court said, "We will examine if she is able to give her free consent and express her choice."
The court modified its previous order of August 16. It had then said that the court would talk to her after the NIA probe was over.
When her father, Asokan K M, represented by senior advocate Shyam Divan, contended that his daughter was indoctrinated, converted and married to a man, facing two criminal cases, the bench asked, "Is there a law which bars a girl from falling in love with a criminal and marrying him? Yes, you can detain the criminal."
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the NIA, contended that there was a well-oiled machinery working on conversion of vulnerable girls. The choice of such girls, even though major, should not be treated as absolute, he contended.
He urged the court to go through a status report filed by the NIA before deciding to allow Akhila, renamed as Hadiya, to go with her husband from the custody of her father.
Divan submitted that it is for the Constitutional court to protect "composite culture and plural society of the country" as organisations like Popular Front of India have been preaching extremism. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the husband, opposed the plea. He said the girl was on record that she wanted to go with her husband.