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Hadiya case: Supreme Court says consent is prime in marriage

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 30/10/2017
Some far-right Hindu groups have portrayed interfaith marriages as a Muslim conspiracy to destroy Hinduism in India [Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images] © Provided by Al Jazeera Some far-right Hindu groups have portrayed interfaith marriages as a Muslim conspiracy to destroy Hinduism in India [Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]

Hadiya is finally going to be heard - a right that was denied to her by her parents, her community and even the highest court in her home state of Kerala.

India's Supreme Court on Monday said that consent of an adult for marriage is prime – a verdict that women rights activists have been waiting for.

The top court also directed the police in the southern state to present Hadiya in the court in New Delhi on November 27.

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Akhila Ashokan, now known as Hadiya, had adopted the Islamic faith and married a Muslim man Shafin Jahan in December 2016.

She had been confined to her father’s house in Kottayam since May, when the Kerala High Court annulled her marriage.

Her father, KM Ashokan, angered by his daughter's decision, had petitioned the Kerala High Court, alleging that his daughter had been forcibly converted and was being held against her will.

On August 16, the Supreme Court had ordered a probe by the country's "anti-terror" agency into whether the marriage was part of a "Love Jihad" conspiracy or whether the woman converted to Islam of her own free will.

'Love Jihad' myth

Far-right Hindu groups allege that "Love Jihad" is a conspiracy by Muslim groups to lure Hindu women into marriages with Muslim men and to convert them to Islam.

The court was hearing a petition by Hadiya’s husband Shafin, which said the high court order was an "insult to the independence of the women of India as it completely takes away their right to think for themselves".

India's top probe body, the National Investigative Agency (NIA) are looking into Hadiya's husband Jahan's allegedly "radical" views and his suspected links to banned Islamic groups.

The top court's observations on Monday however, provided some succour to Shafin.

Activist Rahul Easwar released a video last week that showed Hadiya pleading for her freedom and stating that her life is under threat at her father's house.

"You have to get me out fast. I am sure I will be killed tomorrow or day after. My father is getting angry, I know. When I walk, he is pushing and kicking me," Hadiya says in the video.

Women's rights groups, including the Kerala Women's Commission, have asked for a police probe into Hadiya's present living conditions.

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