No rash of conversions in Kerala, State govt. tells SC

Says police have not found any offences warranting NIA probe into Hadiya case

October 07, 2017 01:05 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 10:48 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Members of ‘Citizens for Hadiya’ stage a protest in Thiruvananthapuram on October 3.

Members of ‘Citizens for Hadiya’ stage a protest in Thiruvananthapuram on October 3.

The Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala rejected the claims made by the Centre's National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Supreme Court that the Hadiya case, involving the alleged conversion of a Hindu woman to Islam and her marriage to a Muslim man, is part of a ‘pattern’ of religious conversions and radicalisation in the southern State.

‘Efficient job’

In fact, the CPI(M) government said the Kerala police were doing an “efficient” job investigating the Hadiya case until the Supreme Court intervened and, believing the NIA’s claims, transferred the investigation to the central agency.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Kerala government said the investigation conducted by the State police had not revealed any offences which warranted an NIA probe.

“The investigation conducted so far by the Kerala police has not revealed any incident relating to the commission of any scheduled offences to make a report to the Central Government under Section 6 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008,” said the affidavit, filed by Subrata Biswas, the State's Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, under oath to the Supreme Court. The State also questioned the sudden transfer of the case to the NIA. saying the State Police Chief had already entrusted the investigation to the Additional Director General of Police (Crimes) and directed to constitute a Special Investigation Team.

A comprehensive probe was already on into various aspects, including the conversion of the woman to Islam, the religious institutions and persons involved, the persons she was in contact, the family background and criminal antecedents of the man she married to, Shafin Jahan, the financial arrangements and other details of their alleged marriage, and finally, if the case involved any attempts of trafficking Hadiya outside the country.

“The Kerala Police had conducted a thorough investigation in an efficient manner. The Kerala Police is competent to conduct the investigation in such crimes and would have reported to the Central government if any scheduled offences were found to have been committed as per the provisions under the NIA Act,” the affidavit said.

SC u-turn

On August 16, when the case was transferred to the NIA, then Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar made a blunt remark to the Kerala government counsel that “We think you (Kerala Police) may take sides. So we asked the NIA for their inputs”.

The court had wanted the NIA to give inputs after going through the files of the Hadiya case. Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, for NIA, had then returned to submit to the court that the Hadiya case was “not an isolated case and we have come across another case with a similar pattern and involving the same people who are acting as instigators”.

However, the Supreme Court Bench more recently on October 3, this time led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, had done a virtual U-turn by questioning the August 16 order for an NIA probe.

The Bench led by Chief Justice Misra also prima facie found that the Kerala High Court had no authority to annul the inter-religious marriage between Mr. Jahan and Ms. Hadiya.

“The order for NIA investigation strikes at the very foundation of multi-religious society... Two senior BJP functionaries have married members of minority communities,” senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Haris Beeran, for Mr. Jahan, had argued.

The apex court had further questioned the legality of woman’s father keeping her in his custody for the past several months.

“We will hear logical and legal arguments on two issues —can the HC nullify a marriage exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 and was an NIA probe necessary,” Chief Justice Misra had observed, posting the case for hearing on October 9.

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