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SC orders NIA probe into Kerala woman's conversion, marriage (Lead)

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered an NIA probe supervised by retired apex court Justice R.V. Raveendran into a case of conversion of young Hindu woman from Kerala to Islam and her subsequent marriage to a Muslim in 2016.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the court “shall require the presence of the girl” and also get inputs from all, including the NIA, the Kerala government, and others before taking a final call in the matter.

The Kerala High Court, on May 25, had declared as “null and void” the marriage of the 24-year-old Hindu woman after conversion with Shafeen Jahan in December 2016, terming it a “sham” and ordered for placing her in her parents’ protective custody. The woman was known as Hadiya after conversion.

The court was told during the hearing that the Kerala government did not have any objection if it wanted a National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe.

Kapil Sibal, appearing for petitioner Shafeen Jahan, urged the apex court bench to decide the issue after speaking to the woman, while referring to documents produced before the court to buttress his plea.

“See their documents… the best course will be to call the girl,” Sibal said.

The woman’s marriage to Jahan was nullified by the High Court.

Referring to some “serious remarks” made by the High Court while holding the marriage “null and void”, Chief Justice Khehar asked Sibal: “What if we say that the investigation be carried out by the NIA under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge?”

When Sibal said there was an element of assumption in this, the court said: “We are not assuming anything. We want an independent agency to probe….”

Initially, the court opted for retired Justice K.S. Radhakrishan but when Sibal voiced reservations, the Chief Justice described him as a “strong judge”.

However, the court named Justice Raveendran when Sibal wanted someone from outside Kerala.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the court that the NIA has, in its preliminary probe, found that there was a pattern as the entities in two cases that have come to light were the same.

Jahan moved the top court against the High Court order to nullify his marriage with Hadiya, contending that the ruling was an “insult to the independence of women in India”.

Jahan claimed Hadiya converted to Islam of her own volition two years prior to their marriage and sought direction to Hadiya’s father to present her in court.

–IANS
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Post Source: Ians feed

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