Even as judges “appealed for decorum,” the Hadiya case hearing in the Supreme Court on Monday descended into a high-pitched ruckus with senior advocate Dushyant Dave and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) counsel, Additional Solicitor-General Maninder Singh, hotly sparring over BJP national president Amit Shah’s “divisive” political rally in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s public statement that ‘love jihad’ is a reality in the southern State.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra called the exchanges between the lawyers “obnoxious” while Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the Supreme Court should not be forced to comment on the conduct of a political personality unless it is relevant to the case at hand.
Justice A.M. Khanwilkar remarked sarcastically that the arguments were so loud that the court could not hear them.
He said the Bench had quickly disposed of its other cases to make time for hearing the Hadiya case, only to witness it dissolve into mayhem.
“We do not have to comment on political personalities. If we start doing that, how do we insulate ourselves from politics? We keep the legislative and the executive away from our hearings and functions… you should reduce the pitch of the submissions made here,” Justice Chandrachud slammed the lawyers.
Mr. Singh, who took strong exception to Mr. Dave saying “your Amit Shah”, accused Mr. Dave of browbeating the court.
“At least I browbeat in the court and not outside the court as your government does,” Mr. Dave shot back at Mr. Singh.
“The way you are arguing is absolutely inexcusable…you lost track absolutely. You cannot say whatever you want in this court. You have bulldozed your own case,” Chief Justice Misra told Mr. Dave.
Mr. Dave, representing Shafin Jahan, who has filed a habeas corpus petition to produce Hadiya in the Supreme Court, said he was “disappointed” by what the Chief Justice said.
“Issues like love jihad are spoken of in political rallies in Kerala…Five times she (Hadiya) appeared before the Kerala High Court stating that she converted and married my client of her own accord. We are not interested in what the CPI(M) does or what the BJP does. But these rallies were unfortunate attempts to vitiate the atmosphere in a State where inter-religious marriages take place…Adityanath then talks about love jihad in reference to this case…Your Lordships cannot ignore the ground realities…But if you do not want to hear, please don’t hear,” Mr. Dave said.
Trouble started when the Bench asked Mr. Singh to respond to its question whether the Kerala High Court in May had gone overboard by annulling the marriage.
Chief Justice Misra said a court should intervene in such cases only if the woman concerned was found to be mentally unsound or psychologically damaged.
‘All of this is politics’
To this, Mr. Singh replied that there was “indoctrination” and the people behind it are trained in hypnosis. This saw Mr. Dave, who argued that the NIA probe was “wholly unsustainable”, on his feet to strongly object to the investigation by the central agency. “All of this is just politics,” Mr. Dave submitted.
“You are both senior lawyers, please maintain decorum. We appeal to you,” Justice Chandrachud intervened as the exchanges heated up.