SUPREME COURT SETS HADIYA FREE FROM PARENTS’ CUSTODY

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Hadiya, when asked by Supreme Court, said I want to continue my studies but not on state’s expenses when my husband can take care of me. — Reuters

The Supreme Court of India directed that Hadiya be taken to medical college so that she could resume her studies and asked the college to allow facility of hostel to her.

Caravan News

NEW DELHI — Young Muslim woman Hadiya, who was born into a Hindu family in Kerala, told the Supreme Court of India here on Monday that she wants freedom. The top court ordered her immediate release from her parents’ custody and resumption of her medical studies in Tamil Nadu and her accommodation be arranged at the college itself.

Hadiya, 25, has been in the confinement at her parents’ home against her will since her marriage with a Muslim man Shafin Jahan was annulled by the Kerala High Court in May 2017. The top court will hear the case on January 12.

Her father Ashokan produced her in the Supreme Court on Monday obeying its October 30 order. Her mother was also present in the court.

The SC had ordered last month that it wanted to hear her story in an open court. But when the Court proceedings began Monday afternoon, senior lawyer Shyam Divan, appearing for her father Ashokan, pleaded for in-camera proceedings. “Akhila’s views are known to everyone. There is tremendous organisational support and there should be some degree of interaction between judges and Akhila. There is highly communally-charged atmosphere. There could be some threats, and kindly revisit the decision for open hearing,” he said.

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Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, while arguing for Hadiya’s husband Jahan, said: “I am really saddened today. Instead of asking Hadiya on what she wants, we are talking about the venom filled in news channels.”

The Supreme Court went ahead with its October 30 order and decided to hear Hadiya’s side of the story in open court and started interacting with her.

When asked to speak, Hadiya told SC: “I want freedom.”

“Do you want to continue your studies on state’s expense,” asked Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Hadiya replied: “I want to but not on state’s expense when my husband can take care of me.”

She clearly stated: “I have been in unlawful custody for 11 months and have suffered mental harassment. I want to go back to my husband and be true to my faith.”

At the end of the hearing, the SC directed that Hadiya be taken to the Sivaraj Homeo Medical College in Salem district of Tamil Nadu for resumption of her studies and that the College should provide hostel facility to her.

Hadiya was studying the Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery in Salem when she converted to Islam.

Hadiya with her husband Shafin Jahan after their marriage in December 2016– File photo

On Saturday (November 25), on her way to Delhi to appear before the SC, Hadiya had told the media at Kochi airport: “I am a Muslim. I want to go with my husband. Nobody forced me to convert.”

Hadiya had married Shafin Jahan in December 2016, three years after she converted to Islam during her college days in Salem. But her family did not accept her conversion and the subsequent marriage and moved the Kerala High Court alleging that she had been forcibly converted and recruited for the terror group ISIS and might be sent to Syria. Hadiya appeared before the Kerala High Court and denied all these allegations. However, the Kerala HC while questioning the motives behind her conversion and marriage with Jahan annulled it in May 2017 and sent her to her parents’ home in Kottayam district in Kerala.

Jahan challenged the HC order in the Supreme Court in July 2017. In August, the top court ordered an NIA (National Intelligence Agency) probe into the case which was dubbed as ‘Love Jihad”. On October 30, however, the SC asked her father to produce Hadiya before it on November 27.

In today’s hearing, the court remained silent on her marriage with Jahan and also the ‘Love Jihad’ allegations.

However, senior lawyer Indira Jaising, one of the counsels of Shafin Jahan, said: “She (Hadiya) has been set at liberty, the college and university at Salem are directed to give her admission. She will be treated like any other student, she can decide who to meet, she is free to meet her husband…..”

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