We have a constitution which guarantees freedom of religion which includes the right to convert to any religion. Why then must Hadiya be denied agency to convert?
The Supreme Court today ordered that Hadiya be produced in court on November 27to speak in her own voice on her conversion to Islam and her marriage. She has been kept captive by her father after a division bench judgement of the high court of Kerala. Earlier, the same high court, after interviewing her had refused to hand over custody to her father, after being satisfied that she converted and married of her own free will. A change of judges led to a change of heart in the court .
The court declared the marriage void in a habeus corpus petition. Such a petition can only be used to check if a person is kept in unlawful custody, and nothing more. It literally means ‘produce the body’ that has been kept in unlawful custody. In this case, the petition was filed by the father to produce his daughter. The validity of the marriage could not be gone into by the court, but it did, holding that a qualified homeopath would not convert to Islam.
Kerala offers very famous cases of Hindus who have converted to Islam, including the late poet and writer Kamala Das. What was so strange about Hadiya’s conversion, when she herself appeared in court and stated that her conversion was voluntary?
Playing politics over the bodies of women, always women, denying them agency in the matter of love and marriage is a game played by upper caste parents with their daughters who marry outside their caste in the name of “kidnapping”. The courts have not taken kindly to these tactics in being satisfied that the relationship is voluntary .our efforts to encourage inter caste marriages and now inter faith marriages have miserably failed, making a mokery of our secular credentials. One wonders whether similar custodial rights would be granted to Muslim parents if their daughters converted to Hinduism. Politics are best kept away from inter personal issues
One Hindu woman converting to Islam and marrying one Muslim, cannot pose a threat to national security! No one prevents the State from investigating threats to national security, but to say that an adult woman must not be allowed to convert to Islam or marry the man she loves violates her right to personal liberty and her right to freely practice the religion of her choice.
Indira Jaising has represented Hadiya’s husband, the petitioner, in the Supreme Court