Responding to a Supreme Court order directing the production of Hadiya Jahan, a woman whose marriage to a Muslim man after converting from Hinduism to Islam was annulled by a lower court, to determine if she acted out of her own free will, Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India, said:
“The Supreme Court order is welcome, but long overdue. The court’s statement that the issue of Hadiya Jahan’s consent will be considered ‘prime’ recognizes the basic right of all women to choose who to marry and what religion to follow.”
“Unfortunately, the next hearing will only be held on 27 November, which will prolong Hadiya Jahan’s five-month-long unlawful confinement at her parents’ house for another month. According to some media reports, Hadiya has stated that she fears being killed. The Government of Kerala must end her unlawful confinement immediately.”
Hadiya, 24, who was born Akhila Ashokan, converted to Islam from Hinduism and married Shafin Jahan, a Muslim man, in December 2016. Following this, her father approached the Kerala High Court, alleging forced conversion. The High Court, disappointingly, annulled the marriage in May 2017 and ordered her to be sent back to her parents’ home. In August, the Supreme Court ordered a probe by the National Investigation Agency into Hadiya Jahan’s conversion and marriage, but subsequently raised questions about the High Court order annulling the marriage.