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Hindu girl not illegally detained: Kerala HC rejects father's plea in religious conversion case

By Rintu Mariam      15 December, 2023 04:24 PM      0 Comments

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court today refused to take up a habeas corpus petition filed by the father of Dr. Hadiya (previously Akhila) claiming that he had not been able to get in touch with his daughter, who had allegedly gone missing since the last month.

A division bench comprising Justices Anu Sivaraman and C. Pratheep Kumar noted that Hadiya was not under any illegal detention and therefore, the habeas corpus petition was not maintainable. The Court made this observation based on a statement Hadiya provided to the Court. 

She stated that she was currently residing in Trivandrum after getting remarried, post her divorce. She also provided calls records indicating communication with her parents. The Bench was also apprised of her current address and contact information.

Taking this into consideration, the Court observed that the petitioner’s daughter is living her life freely and is not under any illegal custody.

Hadiya’s case is rather a revolutionary one. Akhila, initially belonging to the Hindu faith, converted to Islam and assumed the name Hadiya. Her father filed a habeas corpus petition in the Kerala High Court alleging that her religious conversion was under coercion. 

In 2017, the High Court annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shafin Jahan, which was carried out during the pendency of the petition, by invoking its ‘parens patriae’ jurisdiction.

Aggrieved by this, Shafin moved the Supreme Court seeking relief. In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court in 2018, upheld the personal autonomy of a woman to choose her life partner. 

The Court held that parental concerns could not be reflected in the judiciary's exercise of constitutional powers. It further noted that by declaring the marriage of Hadiya with Shafin Jahan null and void while entertaining a writ of habeas corpus, the High Court had transgressed its powers. 

Therefore, it set aside the Kerala High Court’s order that had annulled the couple’s marriage.



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