Kerala HC separates inter-religious married couple, rejects choice of woman to marry

The High Court of Kerala handed over the ‘custody’ of an adult woman of sound mind to her father, and nullified her marriage to a Muslim man. The father of the 24 year old woman had filed a writ petition to seek her custody, after she left her parent’s home and converted to Islam. The marriage was solemnised during the pendency of the case. Constantly referring to the woman as ‘detenue,’ and treating the woman’s choice of marrying a Muslim man as unfavourable, the court granted her custody to her father, nullified her marriage, ordered an enquiry into the background of her husband, and ordered the an investigation into the activities of an organisation that had allegedly forcibly converted the woman in question to Islam.

This judgment has rightly been criticised for dismissing an adult woman’s agency through statements such as, “a girl aged 24 years is weak and vulnerable, capable of being exploited in many ways”, and in implicitly accepting the communal theory of ‘love jihad.’ This decision has been challenged by the husband of the woman in a special leave petition before the Supreme Court.

Asokan K.M. v. The Superintendent Of Police [WP(Crl.).No. 297 of 2016]