Supreme Court upholds validity of Hadiya’s marriage

The Supreme Court, in an interim order, has reinstated the marriage of Hadiya, which had been annulled by the High Court of Kerala amidst controversy over her religious conversion to Islam and subsequent marriage. Given that the marriage was annulled in habeas corpus proceedings filed by her father, the Supreme Court cited that such proceedings were not appropriate for passing an order of annulment, while at the same time highlighting the fact of her free consent in exercising her right to choice to marry. However, the Court ordered investigation into forced conversions to Islam by the National Investigation Agency will continue. Earlier, the Court had appointed a guardian for Hadiya, despite her being an adult, and had severely restricted her access to her husband Shafin Jahan, the petitioner in the present matter. The decision of the High Court of Kerala, as well the delay caused by the Supreme Court in remedying it were widely criticized by the civil society.

Hadiya’s case has brought forth charged contestations over women’s religious identities and their right to exercise choice in marriage, with competing claims about forced conversions to Islam, and the existence of violent ‘curing’ centres for reconversions to Hinduism in Kerala.

Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M. and Ors. SLP (Crl) No. 5777 of 2017