The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Kerala police to hand over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) the probe records of a case concerning the alleged conversion and radicalisation of a Hindu girl, and her marriage to a Muslim.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said the NIA had to get involved to gauge whether this was an “isolated case” or part of a radicalisation trend in the southern State, threatening national security.
When the lawyer for Shafin Jahan protested the move, the court promptly recorded its “impression” that he “does not desire the correct and independent view of the controversy”.
'Why do you doubt NIA?'
“Why do you doubt the NIA? You think they are some kind of an external agency? We are not asking them to investigate. We only want them to have the case records so that they will give us a complete picture. If they [NIA] have an input in this case, we want to hear it,” Chief Justice Khehar orally addressed Jahan’s lawyer, advocate Haris Beeran.
Mr. Beeran said the case is scheduled for hearing on August 16, when the court is anyway supposed to see the records for itself and decide whether the girl should be produced before it. He requested the court to wait till August 16, hear both sides and then decide whether it would be necessary to involve the NIA.
“Why do you doubt the Kerala police? The social media and the press are portraying this as a 'love jihad' case. This whole case has been blown out of proportion,” Mr. Beeran submitted.
“Who said ‘love jihad’? We are not concerned with catchphrases. We have to look into the facts of the case and not concern ourselves with catchphrases. If the NIA says there is no issue, then it is alright. But we have to see whether there is an issue of national security involved,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, the puisne judge on the Bench, replied.
The hearing was based on an urgent application filed by the NIA under Section 6 of the NIA Act of 2008.
Section 6 mandates State governments to hand over to the Centre probe records of any case that may involve an offence scheduled under the NIA Act. If found necessary, the Centre, after going through the records, can suo motu transfer the investigation to the NIA.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh had moved the court in the morning for a judicial order directing the Kerala police to hand over the case records to the NIA.
Voluntary conversion or radicalisation?
On August 4, the Supreme Court said it would decide the actual truth behind the two conflicting images about the 24-year-old woman in question .
Her husband, Shafin Jahan, said she was an independent and devout woman who converted to Islam on her own volition and much before their wedding. Mr. Jahan has approached the Supreme Court with a request to order the girl’s father to produce her in court.
Mr. Jahan claimed that her father was holding her in illegal confinement after the Kerala High Court, on May 24, “arbitrarily” annulled their marriage, condemning it as “love jihad”.
The other picture of the woman is what her father says. It is that of a helpless victim trapped by a “well-oiled” racket that uses “psychological measures” to indoctrinate people and converts them to Islam. He claims that Mr. Jahan is a criminal and his daughter was trapped by a network with connections to the Popular Front of India and even the ISIS.
“My daughter once told me that she wants to do sheep-farming in Syria... even the most liberal of fathers would be shocked to hear this,” the father, represented by advocate Madhavi Divan, told the Bench on August 4.
Ms. Divan said that such conversions and marriages were not rare in Kerala. The present case was only the tip of the iceberg
“Radicalisation is rampant in Kerala... There is more here than what meets the eye. Your Lordships should order an independent investigation into each of these people who are behind what happened to my daughter and their affiliations,” Ms. Divan submitted for the father.