By Kunzes Goba
The Supreme Court of India finally made a decision on the infamous, seemingly-endless Hadiya case.
On the afternoon of 8 March, 2018, the SC set aside the annulment of Hadiya’s marriage to her husband, Shafin Jahan, criticising the Kerala High Court for intervening in the relationship of “two consenting adults”. Back in May 2017, the HC responded to a habeus corpus petition made by her father, who claimed it was a case of ‘love jihad’ and declared her marriage to Shafin Jahan as a “sham”.
The SC observed that “marriage and intimacy of personal relationships are core of plurality in India”. The bench, comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, said their decision was on the basis of Hadiya’s statement, that she had willingly married Jahan.
While this judgement alone is being considered doubly significant for being made on International Women’s Day, we need to look at the reality of the process. It has not been an easy journey for Hadiya, a grown woman whose autonomy and will were questioned.
Previously the Supreme Court was responsible for continuing the Kerala HC’s order to have her custody handed over to her parents, and for ordering the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to look into the case of ‘love jihad’. During a particularly harrowing court proceeding last year, Hadiya was barely allowed to make her stand, and had to fight through the schemes of her family and lawyers to men have her day in Court. The consequence of the proceeding led to her being sent back to Salem for her education, but under her previous name Akhila and not her chosen name Hadiya.
While this judgement surely is a relief for the married couple, the long and burdensome process revealed some uncomfortable truths about how the State views a woman’s independence. Still, it’s been over a year since Hadiya has begun her struggle to realise the rights due to her as an adult human being, and it feels amazing that she’s finally won her battle.