I want freedom: Hadiya tells SC
Granting her partial freedom, the apex court has asked Hadiya to return to her medical college in Salem. She will be treated like a regular student & TN instructed to protect her
On what could have been a lazy Monday, the Supreme Court was buzzing with murmurs of Court No. 1, matter no. 14. Everyone seemed to be headed in one direction – to be a part of the Hadiya case hearing.
Kerala woman Akhila or as she prefers to be known - Hadiya, is at the centre of an alleged conversion controversy. She appeared at the Supreme Court on Monday, with her father Ashokan and her mother, to present her case. She had always maintained that she wanted to be with her husband, Shafin Jahan.
“I have been under unlawful custody for 11 months. I want to be a good citizen, good doctor, but want to live true to my faith. If I am sent back to college to complete my course, I want my husband to be my guardian,” pleaded Hadiya. To Justice Chandrachud’s question to Hadiya about her future and dreams, she quipped, “I want freedom.”
To Justice Dipak Mishra’s question if she wanted the state to support her education, Hadiya reiterated that she would like to complete her studies, but wouldn’t want the state to pay for it as her husband, Shafin Jehan, is capable of taking her.
Soon after she made her stand clear, the Supreme Court Supreme Court ordered Hadiya’s college dean in Salem to be her guardian and ordered State of Tamil Nadu to provide security to Hadiya for next 11 months until she completed her medical internship at Sivaraj Homeopathic Medical College in Tamil Nadu. The case will be heard next on January 12, 2018.
The Apex Court ordered the college administration to treat Hadiya like any other student on the campus, which would mean that she would have the right to meet any person she pleases. The Court did not specifically state whether Shafin Jehan and her parents would be allowed or barred from meeting her during the completion of her education.
As a part of the proceedings NIA had submitted its 100-page report, which claimed that ‘hypnotic counselling’ and ‘Neuro-linguistic programming’ are techniques employed by radical groups to entice young women to convert to Islam and then marry Muslim men. The report stated that non-Muslim women “drift off to an altered state of mind where they are made to believe in doing what the counsellors wish”.
While the CJI Dipak Mishra stated that he had never seen a case such as this, Kapil Sibal, appearing for Hadiya’s husband, Shafin Jahan, requested the court to speak to Hadiya. “To know whether she was indoctrinated or not, one has to talk to her. Your lordships should hear Hadiya. Her statement is more important than the NIA’s,” pointed out Sibal.
The case was heard by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, which included Justice Dipak Mishra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud.
In the beginning, senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing her father Asokan, had pleaded for in camera proceedings and requested the Supreme Court to not allow Hadiya to speak. Divan was supported by the Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, who insisted that the bench study the report filed by the NIA which would “completely demolish the foundation of the marriage dated December 19, 2016”. The ASG reported that there are 10 other identical cases of indoctrination and “neuro-linguistic programming” of women.
The Kerala High Court had in May annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shefin Jahan which took place in December 2016. Jahan then approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court order. The apex court in turn referred the investigation to the NIA.
Hadiya had told reporters at the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) that no one forced her into marrying Shefin Jahan. She had asserted that she was a Muslim and wanted to go with her husband.
- Kapil Sibal
- Shyam Divan
- Shafin Jahan
- Akhila Ashokan
- Dipak Mishra
- Justice Chandrachud
- hypnotic counselling
- Justice AM Khanwilkar