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Hindu woman's conversion and marriage did not warrant NIA probe, Kerala govt tells SC

The Supreme Court has ordered a NIA probe into conversion of Hadiya, who married a Muslim man Shafin Jahan after she converted into Islam.

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk New Delhi Published on: October 08, 2017 8:01 IST
Hindu woman's conversion and marriage did not warrant NIA probe, Kerala govt tells SC

The Kerala government has told the Supreme Court that the state police had conducted a "thorough investigation" into the conversion of a Hindu woman to Islam and her subsequent marriage to a Muslim man and did not find material warranting the transfer of probe to the NIA, the agency primarily responsible for investigating terror cases. 

Hadiya, earlier known as Akhila, was a Hindu woman who converted into Islam and married Shafin Jahan, a Kerala Muslim man. Her father approached the Kerala High Court which declared the marriage null and void calling it a case of "love jihad" and directed that Hadiya return to the protective custody of her parents. The Supreme Court had on August 16 directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe whether there was a wider pattern of alleged 'love jihad' in the case.

The state government said that though it has complied with the court's direction to transfer the case to the NIA, the police has so far not found commission of any 'scheduled offences' which statutorily warrant transfer of the case to the central agency. 

Jahan, who had married the woman last December and challenged the annulment of his marriage by the high court, has recently filed an interim plea seeking recall of the order asking the NIA to take over the investigation. He had claimed that the woman had converted several months before their marriage, which was finalised through a matrimonial site. 

The state government, in the additional affidavit, said that its police was competent to conduct the probe and would have reported to the Centre if any 'scheduled offence' was found to have been committed. 

"The crime branch of Kerala Police had conducted the investigation in an efficient and sincere manner. The investigation conducted so far by Kerala Police has not revealed any incident relating to commission of any scheduled offences to make a report to the central government under Section 6 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008," the affidavit said. 

The state's affidavit said that "the Kerala Police had conducted a thorough investigation in the above mentioned crime in an efficient manner". 

While giving details of the investigation by the police, the state said the antecedents of Jahan were probed and details of involvement in facebook groups and other social media were collected. 

It also said that details of the persons involved, those who had attended their wedding, financial arrangements and others related to the marriage between Hadiya and Jahan were also investigated. 

Simultaneously, the father of the 24-year-old woman has also filed a plea seeking early conclusion of the NIA probe besides seeking protection for him and his family. 

He has also sought a direction to Jahan "and his affiliates not to issue threats to her family". 

Jahan had moved the apex court after the Kerala High Court annulled his marriage, saying it was an insult to the independence of women in the country. 

Earlier, the apex court, on October 3, said it would examine the question whether the high court can exercise its power under writ jurisdiction to annul the marriage of Jahan with the Hindu woman who had converted to Islam. 

Activists ask Kerala CM to give Hadiya state protection

Women's rights activists have appealed to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to extend state protection to Hadiya.

The activists, comprising academicians, authors, women's collectives and women's right advocates, have urged the Kerala chief minister as well as the State Commission for Women to ensure that the woman is not forcibly confined in her parents' house.

"It is alarming to have an adult woman today to be ordered into protective custody of her parent's home under the orders of a court, denied mobility, communication and the company of her friends and well wishers," the activists said in their letters to the CM and the state commission.

In the letter, they also appealed to the commission to visit Hadiya, asses the nature of human rights violation she is facing, and make public a report on her condition.

The activists, including publisher Urvashi Butalia, DU professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professors Ayesha Kidwai and Nivedita Menon, and Suneeta Dhar among others, have sought that "Hadiya be brought under the protection of the state, perhaps in a shelter in consultation with her".

They also demanded that the state women commission and the LDF government ensure that Hadiya is able to meet friends and well wishers and allowed access to a phone.

(With PTI inputs) 

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