Supreme Court Judgment- Shafin Jahan vs. Asokan K.M. & Ors. (2018 SC 343)
This case was famous by the name of Hadiya case. A criminal appeal was filed by the appellant against the order of Kerala High Court. Supreme Court of India allowed the appeal and ordered in favor of the petitioner. Court preserved the right of a girl to marry a person of her own choice and to choose her religion.
Following are the brief facts of this case:
- This case involves a girl named Akhila who belonged to Kottayam Kerala. She used to live with her parents and completed her school. While pursuing her bachelor course in Homeopathy she converted into the Islamic faith. She started learning Islam by enrolling herself in a study center.
- Later, she started wearing a scarf and started practicing Islam as her faith as she was so intensely influenced by her two Muslim friends. Her parents got to know about it when she denied following the tradition of her parents. They noticed the changes in her.
- That Akhila changed her name to Hadiya and left her house in early 2016 on her own will. Thereafter, a missing complaint was filed by her father to trace her. In pursuance of that Writ of habeas corpus was filed in the Kerala high court by her father.
- That Akhila alias Hadiya meanwhile married a muslim person named Shafin Jehan according to the Islamic traditions. Shafin Jahan (petitioner) was associated to an organization which had a close connection with a terrorist organization.
- That the family of Hadiya alleged that she was the victim of love jehad as she was brain washed by Shafin Jahan and his family. They alleged that she was so innocent that she was forced to marry that person without her will. They also alleged that their daughter Akhila was so vulnerable hence she was misled by her friends and other people under conspiracy.
- That a petition was filed by the father of Hadiya apprehending that she might be transported out of the country and may get indulged in illegal activities. On this Kerala high Court issued the direction of restraining her from going outside India and put her in a women hostel in kochi.
- That the court found that the person who made these the couple close to each other and arranged their marriage caused other conversions as well. The person had connections with extremist organizations.
- That it also came to the knowledge of the court that Shafin Jahan was also accused in some criminal matters and he had some connections with ISIS groups.
- Hence, the Kerala High Court by exercising powers under article 226 annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shafin Jahan and ordered for the stay of Hadiya with her parents. Against such order of the High Court, the petitioner filed the petition in Apex Court.
- That the High Court ordered the National Investigation Agency for investigation of the petitioner’s background and other suspicious activities which created doubt about him.
- Can a High Court annul marriage by exercising powers provided under article 226 of Indian Constitution?
Judgment and decision-
- The Supreme Court set aside the order of the Kerala High Court through which the marriage of the petitioner and his wife was annulled.
- The Apex Court cleared its view that a high court could not annul the marriage under the provision of article 226 of the constitution.
- The court allowed the special leave petition because when the court directed Hadiya to be present in the Court she appeared and put her contentions. She admitted the conversion and the fact of her marriage with the petitioner with her own will and without any influence and force.
- Apex Court ordered NIA to investigate in the matter with respect to the criminal allegations on the petitioner under the supervision of R.V. Raveendran (former justice of Supreme Court). He later denied the supervision over the same.
- That the court accepted the fact of marriage of Hadiya and by way of protecting her right to choose, allowed her to live as husband-wife with the petitioner.
- That the court ordered the Kerala Government to make necessary arrangements related to the completion of her study.
- The Court also ordered the State government to provide protection to Hadiya. Court said that the right to change religion is a part of the fundamental right of a person.
- The Supreme Court was of the opinion that if both or any one of them had been incompetent to give consent or not of the age suitable to marriage then the High Court could take such decision in the rarest circumstances.
- The Court expressly said that Hadiya was an adult and mentally competent to consent and hence she could chose her religion and life partner too as it was her fundamental right. Thus the High Court made a mistake by observing that she was of tender age and weak and could be exploited.
- The Supreme Court held that the social values and morals have a different place but they cannot supersede the constitutional provisions related to fundamental rights. For accepting the individuality it is important to accept the right of choice.
- The Supreme Court stated that the High Court of Kerala crossed its limits by annulling the marriage of the petitioner while hearing the petition of habeas corpus, which can be called as a miscarriage of justice.
- The Supreme Court expressed its view by saying that the strength of Indian constitution lies in acceptance of plurality and diversity of culture of India. Choosing a religion is completely a personal affair of a person and marrying a person of own choice cannot be objected and decided by the society because it’s a part of freedom protected under Indian Constitution.
- The Supreme Court allowed the NIA probe in criminal matters of the petitioner without accepting the request of the petitioner for the reconsideration of such order.