- Hadiya is free to live with her husband, the Supreme Court ruled today
- The judges said Hadiya is "at liberty free to pursue her endeavours"
- Kerala High Court had cancelled her marriage on complaint by her father
Her husband's lawyer told NDTV, "Hadiya was still in class and could be informed but today she is a free woman. She can live and love to her liking".
The Kerala High Court had cancelled Hadiya's marriage on a complaint by her father, KM Asokan, who alleged that she had been brainwashed and was forced to convert to Islam as a victim of "love jihad," the term used by right wing groups to accuse Muslim men of drawing Hindu women into relationships, converting them and eventually recruiting them for terrorism. The high court had ordered her to live at her parents home and Hadiya, who was born Akhila Asokan, has told the court she spent months in virtual incarceration and under police surveillance.
In November last year, the Supreme Court had summoned Hadiya in person and after speaking to her, ordered that she be allowed her to complete an internship at a homeopathy college in Tamil Nadu's Salem. Hadiya later requested that her "entire liberty be restored" pointing out that she remained under police surveillance and away from her husband.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud gave judgement today on a petition filed by Hadiya's husband Shafin Jahan, challenging the High Court order annulling their marriage.
Earlier this week, Hadiya's father had told the Supreme Court that his efforts prevented his daughter from being transported to "extremist-controlled territories" of Syria to be used as a "sex slave or a human bomb."
His fresh appeal was in response to Hadiya telling the court last month that she converted to Islam of her own accord and wants to live her life as a Muslim. She said she had married Shafin Jahan of her own will and sought the court's permission to "live as his wife."
"I embraced Islam on my choice as per my conscience and on my own free will, after studying about Islam and thereafter I married Shafin Jahan. I further pray that this court may be kind enough to appoint my husband as my guardian," said Hadiya, said in an affidavit filed in court, stating that she "continues to live in confinement."
Hadiya had met Shafin Jahan, who was working in Oman and had returned to India recently, through a matrimonial website affiliated to an organisation which the National Investigation Agency says it is probing for links to terror.
The Supreme Court had said earlier this year Hadiya is an adult and so her marriage to Shafin Jahan cannot be questioned. It also said that while the NIA can continue to investigate Mr Jahan, it cannot investigate the legitimacy of her marriage.