This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The Shafin Jahan case, in brief
- The Kerala high court annulled the marriage of Shafin Jahan and 24-year-old Hadiya (Akhila) in May this year, after her father alleged she had unlawfully been indoctrinated into Islam and held captive by her husband.
- The case came to be known as the Kerala 'love jihad' after it was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State's mission in Syria, and Jahan was merely a stooge.
- The Kerala high court gave Hadiya's father KM Asokan her legal custody after the annulment of the marriage.
- The husband, Jahan, then approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court order. On August 16, the apex court referred the investigation to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge.
- The NIA told the Supreme Court that there was a pattern of indoctrination in 89 such cases in Kerala, and that it had found a systematic apparatus engaged in targeting and radicalising youth for jihad. The agency also submitted a sealed cover report to the court on the pattern emerging from the conversion of several young Hindu girls to Islam and how several persons had played a common role in convincing these girls to change their faith.
- As part of the hearing, the Supreme Court observed that the woman's consent for the marriage was paramount as she is an adult by law. It ordered that Hadiya be produced before it for an interaction on November 27, so that it may take a preliminary assessment of her mental state.
- On November 25, while on her way to Delhi to appear before the Supreme Court, Hadiya told reporters that no one forced her into marrying Shafin Jahan.
"I want to go with my husband. Nobody forced me to convert," she said.
- During the course of the hearing, Asokan was accused of keeping his daughter in captivity. He, however, alleged that 'false propaganda' had been unleashed against him and his family.
"I have no objection in my daughter marrying from any religion. But this group has terrorist connection and I have informed this to the court," he said.
- In early November, National Commission for Women (NCW) acting chairperson Rekha Sharma visited Hadiya at her residence in Vaikom. She said that Hadiya was in good health and spirits, and that her security was under no threat.
"I just met Akhila, Hadiya, whatever you want to call her. Myself and NCW were concerned about her well-being. She is in good health and not beaten up. She is eating her food and she was smiling," said Sharma.
- During the course of the case, another parent from Kerala, in late October, moved the apex court seeking an NIA probe into her daughter's alleged conversion to Islam through 'love jihad' and her being lured into joining jihad for the Islamic State in Afghanistan.
SC questions justification of Kerala HC annulling marriage of Hindu girl
A month and a half after ordering an NIA probe to be supervised by a retired SC judge into alleged love jihad' in Kerala, the apex court questioned the justification of the Kerala high court order annulling the marriage of Hindu girl Akhila aka Hadiya with Shafin Jahan.
In contrast to the August 18 proceedings before a bench headed by then CJI J S Khehar, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud questioned the father for moving court to seek annulment of his daughter's marriage. The girl had allegedly converted to Islam in 2013 and married Shafin in December 2016. The bench said, “She (Hadiya) is 24 years old. You (father) can't have control over her. On the consent of parties, we may appoint a custodian (for her). The father cannot say I will always have control over a 24 year-old daughter.“
Since August 18, there have been two changes -Justice Khehar was succeeded by Justice Misra as CJI and Shafin's counsel Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising were replaced by senior advocate Dushyant Dave. When additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta requested the bench for a few days' adjournment owing to the absence of ASG Maninder Singh, who had been handling the case, Dave lashed out at the SC's decision to order an NIA probe into the case.
“We have a multi-cultural society.Persons are free to choose whom to marry . The SC travelled much beyond the case in ordering NIA probe even when there was no appeal by the state government,“ Dave said. His voice was so loud that Justice Khanwilkar said, “You are so loud. We cannot even hear you properly .“ But Dave said, “I will be loud. Please vacate the August 18 order.“
After criticising the SC for going beyond the case, Dave himself waded into political waters by asking, “There are two important Muslim BJP leaders who have married Hindu women. Should the SC order NIA probe into it?“ This saw the CJI raise his voice too and tell Dave not to cross the bounda ry of logical arguments. “I expected logical arguments from a counsel of your stature. I am sorry to say your ar guments are not logical,“ the CJI said.
He added two questions -“can there be an NIA probe and was the HC justi fied in annulling the marriage“. Surprised by the change of track, Mehta said, “The NIA has unearthed important material during the probe.The present CJI (Justice Misra) is dealing with this case for the first time and does not have the advantage of going through this material. There is a pattern emerging from different cases (about love jihad).“ Appearing for the girl's father, advocate Madhavi Divan said it was a fraud marriage.
But the court agreed to Mehta's request for a short adjournment and posted the case for October 9. It told Dave that there was no bar for the SC to expand its jurisdiction under the power conferred on it by Article 136 of the Constitution. It sought an opinion from senior advocate Fali S Nariman, who was present in the courtroom. Nariman was prompt to agree, “Under Article 136, there is nothing called SC can never expand its jurisdiction.“
NIA’s 'Love Jihad' probe won’t affect legality of Hadiya’s marriage: SC
The NIA said its probe is almost complete and "shouldn't go waste"
The SC then said the probe is the Agency's business, deciding the the legitimacy of Hadiya's marriage isn't
The SC has previously declared that an adult woman, like Hadiya is, enjoyed the right to lead a life of her choice
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court (SC) said the NIA's probe+ into so-called 'love jihad' cases has no bearing on the court's deciding whether the marriage of Kerala's Hadiya+ is legitimate. That's because the union cannot be challenged by a third party, said the apex court.
When the NIA said its probe is almost complete and "shouldn't go waste", the SC brushed it off, again saying an investigation is the Agency's business. But the legitimacy of Hadiya's marriage - which the Kerala high court annulled last May - is not the business of the NIA, the SC said.
"We make it clear that we are concerned about ongoing probe of NIA into 'love jihad' cases and the only issue before us is legitimacy of the marriage which cannot be challenged by third party," said the SC.
A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra observed that the NIA cannot get involved in the marital status of Hadiya as she is an adult.
Earlier this month, the SC declared that an adult woman enjoyed an unfettered right to lead a life of her choice.
"It needs no special emphasis to state that attaining the age of majority in an individual's life has its own significance. S/he is entitled to make her/his choice. The courts cannot, as long as the choice remains, assume the role of parens patriae (legal protector)," said a bench of Chief Justice Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
SC sets aside Kerala high court order that annulled Hadiya's marriage
The Supreme Court set aside the Kerala HC order that had annulled alleged 'love jihad' victim Hadiya aka Akhila's marriage with her husband Shafin Jahan
It said it was restoring Hadiya and Jahan's marriage, as it had interacted with the former and found that she had exercised her consent in getting married
The Supreme Court said that Hadiya's marriage with her husband Shafin Jahan is legal and valid, and a relationship she has formed of her free will and consent. In doing so, the apex court overturned an earlier order of Kerala HC, which had cancelled the marriage saying it wasn't legal as she entered into it out of coercion or was brainwashed into it.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said it was restoring Hadiya and Jahan's marriage, as it had interacted with the former and found that she had exercised her consent in getting married.
With today's order, the two will be deemed legally married and can live as a couple without being harassed by any state agency.
The SC, however, said that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the alleged 'love jihad' phenomenon would be taken to its logical conclusion by the agency in accordance with the law.
In its status report submitted to the SC, the NIA had said that a well-oiled system prevailed in Kerala to indoctrinate people to embrace Islam.
Earlier, Hadiya's father KM Asokan told the top court that his efforts prevented her from being transported to "extremist-controlled territories" of Syria to be used as a "sex slave or a human bomb".
Asokan said his daughter was a "vulnerable adult" and she "abjectly surrendered herself to complete strangers who adopted her into their fold, offering her shelter and protection and further imparted religious indoctrination in an isolated environment".
Hadiya, however, told the court that she embraced Islam + of her own free will and wanted to continue living as a Muslim. In an affidavit filed before the top court, she said that she had married Jahan of her own volition and sought the court's permission to "live as his wife".
She said that Jahan had no role in her conversion and that he had come into her life only after she embraced Islam.
"I hereby submit that I embraced the faith/religion of Islam on my choice as per my conscience and on my own free will after studying about Islam and thereafter I married a person, namely Shafin Jahan, from the same faith as per my choice and on my own free will. However, despite the fact that I submitted repeatedly before the Kerala High Court that I made the above choices on my own free will, the HC did not heed to my submissions," she said.
Hadiya accused the NIA of wrongly projecting Jahan as a terrorist. The apex court had earlier allowed her to resume her Bachelors in Homeopatic Medicine and Surgery (BMHS) at a Salem-based college.
All interfaith marriages not ‘love jihad’: Kerala HC
Every case of inter-religion marriage shall not be portrayed on a religious canvass and create fissures in the communal harmony, court said.
The court said it was appalled to notice the recent trend in Kerala to sensationalize every case of interfaith marriage as either ‘love jihad’ or ‘ghar wapsi’.
All interfaith marriages should not be portrayed as 'love jihad' or 'ghar wapsi' and doing so could jeopardise the religious harmony of the state, the Kerala high court said. It also ordered police to raid and close down centres run by religious fundamentalists to convert or reconvert those falling in love with people from other religions.
A division bench gave the directive on a habeas corpus petition filed by Anees Hameed of Kannur after his lover, Sruthi, went missing. She later told the court that her parents had taken her to Siva Sakthi Yogavidya Kendram at Udayamperoor, where she was detained against her wish and mentally and physically tortured to abandon her lover. The court set Sruthi and Anees free to decide on their choice of religion without interference from her parents or anybody else.
"We caution that every case of inter-religious marriage shall not be portrayed on a religious canvass and create fissures in the communal harmony otherwise existing in god's own country-Kerala," the judgment said.
On police action, it said: "Any centre for forcible conversion or re-conversion has to be busted by police whether it be Hindu, Muslim or Christian lest it offends the constitutional right. Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of India guarantees every citizen the right to freely profess, practise and propagate any religion, which cannot be trampled upon by subversive forces or religious outfits."
A former instructor at the yoga centre had submitted in the court— in a habeas corpus case involving another detainee, Dr Shweta of Thrissur— that the detained women were brought to the centre through a VHP-run organisation called Hindu Helpline. Christian Helpline, an organisation formed to "save" Christian women falling for "love jihad", and Athira of Palakkad who allegedly converted to Islam and then reconverted to Hinduism at the yoga centre had sought to join the case.
However, the court did not allow their pleas, saying these "strangers" could depose before police if needed.
Rajasthan HC’s guidelines/ 2017
Hearing a case of alleged ‘love jihad’, the Rajasthan HC on Friday issued guidelines for religious conversions and interfaith marriages and said they would be in force till the state government brought a law to govern conversions.
While disposing of a habeas corpus petition filed by one Chirag Singhvi, who had alleged that his sister Payal was forcibly converted to Islam to marry one Faiez Modi, the HC issued issued a 10-point guideline and said it was doing so “to check the problem of forcible conversion”.
Henceforth, a person wishing to convert in Rajasthan will have to inform the district collector/sub-divisional magistrate/sub-divisional officer concerned who shall put the information on notice boards the same day and also ascertain that the conversion is not forceful. A person can marry only a week after adopting the new faith. The person solemnising such marriages has to also ensure that the information of conversion has been duly given to the authorities. If a marriage is in contravention of the guidelines, it can be declared voidable upon complaint of the aggrieved party, the court said.
Payal, who took the name Arifa after conversion, had submitted an affidavit on a stamp paper of Rs 10 to the local police to declare that she had converted to Islam. During one of the hearings last month, the HC had taken a serious note of this with Justice Gopal Krishan Vyas, who headed the division bench, remarking, “In this way, tomorrow, even I could address myself as Gopal Mohammad.”
The bench noted, “We are aware of the fact that under Article 25 of the Constitution, there is fundamental right granted to the citizen for freedom of religion and every citizen of India is entitled to follow any religion, but the question arises whether forcible conversion of religion for the purpose of marriage is justified? Obviously, the answer is ‘NO’.”
“Nowadays, the problem of forcible conversion has become a serious problem because teenagers are forcibly converting (sic) only for the purpose of solemnising marriage,” the court said.
However, it said Arifa and her husband were adults, and hence these guidelines would not affect their rights.
Preventing love jihad
Alerts by informers to HYV, VHP
A Muslim youth and his two brothers were beaten up by members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini and Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Saturday at a Baghpat court complex when the man was to get married to a Hindu girl from Punjab. Every time a case of 'love jihad' comes up, what leaves locals and police puzzled is how Hindu organisations get to know about it even before police. The secret may be out now.
Bajrang Dal and VHP members told TOI that they depend on a large and intricate mesh of informers, from bus drivers to waiters, advocates, farmers and sometimes even labourers to alert them on inter-faith affairs. They said each year thousands of people become a part of their organisation, but since not everybody can be given a designation, they are given the role of informers.
"Not everyone can come to the front and protest, but nobody shies away from providing information. This is why we have a network of people who are our members and who work silently on the ground. These are mainly farmers, labourers and even advocates, who inform us about inter-faith marriages or relationships," said Balraj Dungar, West UP convenor, Bajrang Dal.
He may have a point. Last year in April a couple in Meerut were dragged out of a room in a crowded Shastri Nagar gully and paraded through the streets. The boy later said he was shocked how so many people got to know of his discreet meeting with the girl he claimed to be in love with.
Information about the inter-faith couple in Baghpat, too, reached right-wing leaders on Saturday through one such informer. Vicky Chaudhary, Baghpat city president of VHP said, "I cannot disclose who gave us this tip-off, but we got the information from somebody within the organisation who had in turn received this information from a local source." He further said that paan and cigarette shops were the most helpful source among all.
But to get inputs on a majority of love jihad cases, that too before police most of the time, the organisations have a large number of sources on the ground.
"From November to December 2017, an enrolment drive was conducted in Shamli. At least 8,000 people joined the organization, but since not all of them can be given a designation, some have been given the role of informers. In fact, we have WhatsApp groups in place which have all these people. I closely monitor all of them and if any case of love jihad comes to the fore, I inform the people concerned so that we reach the spot to check the matter and seek police intervention," said Vivek Premi, Bajrang Dal head for Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat and Sardhana and also the student head of Meerut zone. Premi added that their sources were mainly waiters, kitchen staff of hotels (where couple go for dates), students and bus drivers, among others.