Appearing for the NIA in the Hadiya case, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said the agency had found some “extremely critical factual findings which demolish the case” made out by the petitioners. He reiterated the charge that the case of Hadiya (Akhila) was one of indoctrination and psychological kidnapping.
Petitioner Shefin Jahan, Hadiya’s husband, had claimed he met her through a marriage portal Waytonikah, but evidence adduced by the NIA showed that this was “totally false and entirely bogus”, Singh submitted. He alleged that the only condition of the handlers who arranged their marriage was that the groom should be an active worker of the Popular Front of India, which the ASG claimed was a radical outfit.
He said the NIA had been handed 11 more cases by the Kerala police, of which seven have links to Sathyasarani, a Kerala-based Islamic education centre that has been accused of being linked to Akhila’s conversion to Hadiya. “She will say that I’m doing things on my own. That exactly is the indoctrination,” Singh said. “This is called programming.”
Senior counsel Shyam Diwan, appearing for Hadiya’s father K M Asokan, produced in court transcripts of an audio clip allegedly from an IS operative hailing from Kerala calling for jihad and referred to a sting operation done on Sathyasarani.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Jahan, rejected the arguments. “I can give a communal reply to a communal argument. At this moment, we are (talking) about the autonomy of an adult.”
Justice D Y Chandrachud then said, “My question is at what stage can a court venture into whether an autonomy of an individual can be probed?”
Sibal replied that the arguments must be so persuasive that the court is impelled to investigate. “Otherwise every other case like this will lead to such probe and it will lead to an outrage in this country… Even if we assume that a woman wrongly decided to marry someone, can the court interfere in every such marriage,” he said.
RELATED REPORT: Her journey from Akhila to become Hadiya
Diwan submitted that the Kerala HC had already looked into the matter and arrived at conclusions. As Sibal persisted with his demand that the bench talk to the woman, Justice Chandrachud said, “There may also be exceptions. You can have something like Stockholm syndrome.” He, however, sought to remind that “liberty of an individual is a cherished value under the Constitution.”
The court then sought to know the view of the Kerala government. Appearing for the state, senior counsel V Giri said the court must first look into the material before it and then proceed with the matter.