India's top court overrules annulment in 'love jihad' case

Published: March 8, 2018
Inter-religious relationships are still taboo in India, particularly in rural areas. PHOTO COURTESY: HINDUSTAN TIMES

Inter-religious relationships are still taboo in India, particularly in rural areas. PHOTO COURTESY: HINDUSTAN TIMES

NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a woman who converted to Islam should be allowed to live with her Muslim husband in a case that sparked debate about inter-religious relationships and women’s rights.

Judges overturned a lower court’s ruling that the December 2016 marriage between Akhila Ashokan and Shafin Jahan was illegal.

Ashokan’s Hindu father won a court order last May to nullify the marriage and return the 25-year-old woman to her parents’ home, alleging that she had been forced to wed and convert.

That ruling by the high court in southern Kerala state outraged women’s rights campaigners.

Jahan challenged the order, and the Supreme Court said: “In this case, we feel that the high court shouldn’t have annulled the marriage.
“Therefore we set aside the high court order. The girl is free to pursue her endeavours,” it added.

Indian woman in ‘love jihad’ case says was not forced to embrace Islam

The Supreme Court had already ordered Ashokan’s removal from her father’s custody last November, after the young woman told the judges: “I want my freedom.”

Ashokan, who changed her name to Hadiya after converting to Islam, insists she was not forced to give up her faith a flashpoint issue for nationalists in Hindu majority India.

Inter-religious relationships are frowned upon in India, particularly in rural areas.

In recent years, Hindu extremists have pushed fears of “love jihad” claims that young Muslim men were attempting to seduce Hindu women to make them convert.

India’s federal investigations agency has said it is looking into alleged links between Shafin Jahan and extremist groups. He has not been convicted of any crime.

The Supreme Court said the federal agency was free to carry on the probe “in accordance with law.”

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Bhaijaan
    Mar 8, 2018 - 11:57PM

    This is not the last word. They have a lifetime of struggle ahead of them.Recommend

  • stevenson
    Mar 9, 2018 - 12:09AM

    I thought a lot of Indian Muslims were returning to their Hindu roots through the Ghar Wapsi scheme introduced by the Indian government?Recommend

  • Logical Scientist
    Mar 9, 2018 - 1:27AM

    Farewell Hadiya!. See you in Syria, that’s if you survive more than a day. Your husband will marry another one.Recommend

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