Chhattisgarh police told to produce the woman before an SC bench after her husband filed a habeas corpus plea, referring to the Hadiya matter.
New Delhi: Nine days after Anjali Jain went missing, the Supreme Court directed the superintendent of police of Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh, to produce her before a bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on 27 August. Anjali, who holds a bachelor of business management (BBM) degree, married 32-year-old Ibrahim Siddique six months ago against the wishes of her parents.
The top court’s directions came on a plea by Siddique, who filed a habeas corpus petition.
Siddique has also challenged a Chhattisgarh High Court order, which despite hearing Anjali at length, “erroneously” declined to record her wishes and directed her to choose between staying with her parents or at a hostel.
“The high court despite recording that the detenue (Anjali) was a major of 23 years of age and by her own admission was married to the petitioner (Siddique), limits her freedom to either live with her parents or be accommodated in a hostel,” (sic) Siddique said in his plea.
This, Siddique claimed, is a clear violation of her rights since she had expressed her intent to live with him.
According to the petition, the matter is serious given that “certain serious and life-threatening events have transpired subsequent to the impugned order and the petitioner apprehends serious threats to his and his wife’s life”.
In his plea, Siddique invoked the top court’s judgment in the Shafin Jahan case — which also dealt with a habeas corpus case involving Hadiya who had converted to Islam before marrying Shafin and was detained by her parents — to press his point on the issue of dealing with the matter of private custody of an adult girl by her parents.
Siddique said, instead of deciding the habeas corpus case filed by a husband for custody of his wife forcibly detained by her parents, the high court expressed its doubts about the legality of the marriage.
“That the only relevant factor to be considered while deciding a habeas corpus petition dealing with the issue of private custody of an adult girl by her parents is the independent choice of the girl / detenue and the Hon’ble High Court erred in not releasing the detenue in this case as per her express wish stated in open court during the hearing of the writ petition on 30th July 2018,” Siddique said.
Dhamtari residents, 32-year-old Siddique – an event management executive — and 24-year-old Anjali, married earlier this year after a courtship that lasted three years. In order to overcome the objections of her family, Siddique converted and became a Hindu, changing his name to Aryan Arya, two days before the couple tied the knot as per Hindu rituals at an Arya Samaj temple in Raipur on 25 February.
The couple chose to keep mum about their marriage hoping to win the confidence of the parents before breaking the news. However, four months later, in June, Anjali’s parents found out about their marriage.
Fearing that they would not agree, Anjali decided to run away from her parents’ house to start living with Siddique. However, her plan was foiled when police officials apprehended her while she was on her way and took her to a women’s shelter home.
Siddique then approached the top court after the couple got no relief from the high court.
In the past six months, the Supreme Court has stepped in at least twice to assert the right of a woman to live with a partner of her choice.
In April this year, the top court had declined a plea to declare that a Hindu marriage invalid if it takes place without the consent of the bride. The court had observed that the consent of a bride is inherent part of the Hindu marriage law and there was no room for a judicial declaration when the statute itself is amply clear.
“A marriage that takes place without the consent of the bride is subject to nullification of the marriage… A marriage entered through fraud on the bride stands on the same footing as when there is no consent,” the apex court had said.
On 9 April, the apex court made a compelling case for an individual’s right to choose their religion and marry a partner of their choice. Neither society nor a state has any right or a role in this determination, it had said while pronouncing their judgment in the Hadiya matter.