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Supreme Court to examine whether Kerala HC can annul Muslim man’s marriage with Hindu woman

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-10-2017 PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it would examine the question as to whether the Kerala high court can annul the marriage of a Muslim man with a Hindu woman, who had converted to Islam before tying the nuptial knot, by exercising its power under the writ jurisdiction.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that it will hear on 9 October the fresh plea of Shafin Jahan, the Kerala man seeking recall of its earlier order by which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was asked to probe whether there was a wider pattern of alleged ‘love jihad’ in the case.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Jahan, argued that in a multi-religious society the apex court should not have ordered NIA investigation in the case and urged for an urgent hearing on the plea seeking recall of the order.

“Pattern or no pattern, the question is, can the high court annul the marriage by exercising its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution,” the bench which also comprises Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre sought an adjournment on the ground that another ASG Maninder Singh, who has been appearing in this case was out of station for personal purposes.

Jahan had on 20 September approached the apex court seeking recall of its order directing the NIA to investigate the controversial case of conversion and marriage of a Hindu woman with him. The Kerala High Court had annulled the marriage terming it as an instance of ‘love jihad’, following which he had approached the apex court.

The top court had on 16 August directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the incident under the supervision of retired apex court judge, Justice R V Raveendran. Jahan has claimed in his plea that the Kerala human rights commission has received several complaints regarding the detention of the woman at her father’s house.

He has also claimed that the woman has made it clear that she had accepted Islam on her own free will and after the 24 May order of the high court, she has been detained against her will and her rights have been violated.

Jahan, who had married a Hindu woman last December, 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. The woman, a Hindu, had converted to Islam and later married Jahan.

It was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State’s mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge. Ashokan K.M., the father of the woman, had alleged that there was a “well-oiled systematic mechanism” for conversion and Islamic radicalisation. The high court, while declaring the marriage as “null and void”, had described the case as an instance of ‘love jihad’ and ordered the state police to conduct probe into such cases.

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