The Supreme Court ends unjustified restrictions on Hadiya’s personal freedom


  • The Supreme Court recognised and upheld Ms. Hadiya’s freedom “to pursue her future endeavours according to law” which means that Ms. Hadiya is free to leave her college hostel at Salem and join her husband Mr. Shafin Jahan.


1st petition:

  • January, 2016: On 6 January, 2016, Akhila went missing from a house in Selam, where she was staying with her friends Faseena and Jaseena.
  • Akhila’s parents filed a police complaint alleging that her friends Faseena and Jaseena, and their father Aboobacker, had taken Akhila away.
  • Following this, Akhila’s father Ashokan filed a habeas corpus petition at the Kerala High Court.
  • January 25, 2016: But on January 25, the Kerala High Court dismissed the habeas corpus petition, after finding that Akhila was not in illegal confinement.

2nd petition:

  • August 17, 2016: Six months after the Kerala High Court dismissed Ashokan’s habeas corpus petition, another petition had been filed by Akhila’s father.
  • This time, he alleged that efforts were being made to transport Akhila out of the country and to get her hurriedly married off to a Muslim man.
  • December 21, 2016: Akhila appeared before the court accompanied by “a stranger”.
  • Her counsel told the court that Akhila had married a Muslim man, Shafin Jahan, on December 19 according to Muslim laws.
  • May 24, 2017: On May 24, 2017, the the Kerala High Court called her wedding a sham.
  • The court concluded that Shafin was “only a stooge who has been assigned to play the role of going through a marriage ceremony.” 
  • Calling the Akhila, ‘weak and vulnerable’, the court said that she had no clear plans for her life or future and said that there was an ‘organized racket’ behind the conversion.
  • The court nullified the marriage, and sent Akhila back to the custody of her parents.

3nd petition

  • July, 2017: Two months after the Kerala HC nullified their marriage, Shafin approached the Supreme Court with a special leave petition against the HC order.
  • 23rd January, 2018: Counsel for Mr Ashokan (Hadiya’s father) argued that the circumstances leading to the marriage must be investigated, the court emphasised that Hadiya’s marital status could not be looked into by the Court.
  • Being a 24-year old adult, Hadiya had the power to make her own decisions, and the Court could not compel her to go to her father or husband against her will.
  • Neither could the Court look into the character of the person Hadiya had married.
  • The bench reiterated that investigating the marriage in such a manner would set a bad precedent in law.
  • 8th March 2018: Finally, on 8th March 2018, Hadiya’s marriage was restored by the Supreme Court.

In the context of the apex court’s judgment on the case of Hadiya, what are the reasons for which the apex court was compelled to set aside the former judgment of the Kerala High Court?

The reasons for which the apex court was compelled to set aside the former judgment of the Kerala High Court are as follows:

  • Firstly, courts cannot withdraw marriages between two consenting adults or resort to a “roving enquiry” on whether the married relationship between a man and woman is based on consent.
  • Secondly, courts cannot investigate whether a person married a good person or a bad person. That’s a personal choice.
  • Thirdly, the apex court said that marriage and plurality are the fundamental core of our culture. Plurality in India should be zealously guarded.
  • The moment public law (law of relations between individuals and the State) is allowed to encroach into marriage, the state finds its way to interfere in individual choices of a citizen.
  • Fourthly, it is not just the state, but parents too cannot wield their influence against adults who marry a person of their own choice.
  • Fifthly, any court or institution cannot scuttle the constitutional rights of an adult woman.

After the judgment by the apex court, the Hindu organizations have coined the term, ‘love jihad’ to describe several cases of conversion of non-Muslims to Islam in the 1990s. What is ‘love jihad’?

  • The term “love jihad” was first mentioned in around 2007 in Kerala and neighbouring Karnataka state, but it became part of the public discourse in 2009.
  • Jihad, also called Romeo Jihad, is an unsubstantiated campaign defined as an activity under which Muslim men target women belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love.
  • The Hindu bodies had claimed that ‘love jihad’ was part of a well-organised racket that hires young Muslim men to lure Hindu girls by feigning love for the purpose of conversion.
  • Catholic Church bodies in Kerala and Hindu groups in Karnataka in 2009 claimed that thousands of women had been coerced or lured into converting to Islam.

What are the conditions in which courts can intervene marriages in India?

Conditions in which courts can intervene marriages in India are as follows:

Protection of Child from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and Child Marriage and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006:

  • If the case involves a minor woman, and she being enticed to enter a sexual relationship, then there is a case of the man being a pedophile.
  • The Acts covering this offence would be Protection of Child from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and Child Marriage and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.

Section 366 of the IPC:

  • If the court finds that there has been abduction followed by a forced marriage, then the court can punish the accused under Section 366 of the IPC which punishes abduction leading to forced marriage or sexual relationship against the woman’s will.
  • The offence is punishable with up to 10 years.

Other condition:

  • When a girl of 16 marries a man of 70 or 80, the marriage revolves around trafficking.
  • Such a marriage may occur due to poverty or ignorance.
  • Courts can indeed intervene in such marriages taking into consideration the inherent mental capacity of the woman or the socio-economic circumstances

What are the two legislation framed to solve the challenge of Marriage Registration Laws?

Currently, there are two legislation framed to solve the challenge of Marriage Registration Laws in diverse cultures, they are

  • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955:

  • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955deals with marriage registration in case both husband and wife are Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs or, where they have converted into any of these religions.
  • Note: It is to be noted that Hindu Marriage Act deals with only marriage registration that has already been solemnized.

The Special Marriage Act, 1954:

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954lay down the procedure for both solemnization and registration of marriage, where either of the husband or wife or both are not Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs.
  • It is the duty of the judiciary to ensure that the rights of both the husband and wife are protected.
  • In case this union between the husband and wife breaks, it should be determined that if this break-up was a result of actions of any of the parties or not.


The Supreme Court allowed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to continue with its ongoing investigation into any criminality involved, but asked the agency to steer clear of Ms. Hadiya’s choice to marry Mr. Jahan.

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