New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday did not stay the Kerala High Court order cancelling the marriage of a Hindu woman to a Muslim man and giving her custody to her father.
The high court had annulled the marriage between Shafin Jahan and Hadiya (name changed after conversion to Islam), 24, while hearing a habeas corpus plea by the woman’s parents who alleged that she was forcibly converted by organised groups with links to terrorist outfits.
Refusing to stay the high court verdict, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud asked the parties to address it on the question as to under which law the high court order was justified or not.
Amid a slanging match between lawyers for both sides, the court fixed the next date of hearing on October 30.
The court on Monday witnessed some heated moments when senior counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for petitioner Shafin Jahan, told the court that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah during their recent visit to Kerala tried to take political advantage of the issue.
As the bench objected to the naming of politicians as the issue was purely legal, Dave said his client was concerned about the safety of his wife, who had married him “willingly” but her “liberty has been taken away by a judicial order.”
He told the court that Hadiya appeared before the high court and filed multiple affidavits saying that she had married on her own accord yet the scope was sought to be enlarged by handing the case over to the National Investigation Agency, which was ordered to probe the case by the apex court in August.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for NIA, defended the high court decision to hand over the custody of the woman to her parents, citing judgments holding that the custody of an adult could be given to the parents in certain factors and circumstances.
As the ASG pointed to there being a pattern to religious conversions similar to this case, Dave said that it was all politics. He said the NIA has no business to investigate the matter, blaming it of playing into the hands of the government.
At this, Maninder Singh described Dave’s arguments and raising of his voice as “obnoxious”. As he said that this is a pattern that one will shout in the court, Dave retorted: “We do it in the court and not outside, as your government does.”
At this, the bench stepped in, reiterating its stand made in the previous hearing that it “wanted to know under what circumstances the high court can invoke its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution and cancel a marriage and hand over the custody of the adult woman to her father”.
The woman is currently in her parents’ custody at their house near Kottayam.