In the petition filed by Fadiya’s ex-husband Shafeen Jahan, the court came to the conclusion that it would need to speak to the girl after conflicting allegations were leveled by counsels for the three parties involved — the father, the ex-husband and the central government.
Typically, in case of appeals over the verdict of a lower court, the higher court does not record fresh evidence, but passes its opinion based on the evidence already recorded by the trial court.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud also said that Fadiya’s testimony will be held in open court, and not in a closed session.
The bench had appeared, in its previous hearings, to be predisposed to overturning the Kerala High Court’s decision to cancel Fadiya’s marriage with Shaheen.
However, matters took a turn today after advocate Shyam Divan, who represents Fadiya’s father, said there was evidence that Jehan was in touch with a known recruiter for ISIS in India.
“There are exchanges with that person on Facebook and Whatsapp,” he told the court.
Jehan’s marriage with Fadiya was annulled by the Kerala High Court as it was done when the Court had specifically warned against trying to change the facts in the case which related to a Habeas Corpus petition filed by Ashokan, the father.
The court held that the organization that had helped Fadiya convert to Islam had arranged the marriage primarily with the aim of denying custody of the girl to the father.
The Habeas Corpus petition too had claimed that Fadiya was at the risk of being sent to Syria to fight with the Islamic State by the organization.
In its last hearing, the Supreme Court bench seemed skeptical of whether the High Court had the right to annul the marriage when it was hearing a Habeaus Corpus (produce the body) petition.
Today, the National Investigation Agency advocate, Maninder Singh, said the High Court had the right to intervene as this was a case of what he called indoctrination.
“This girl has been indoctrinated and manipulated. In such cases the court can invoke parental authority,” he said.
Replying to the allegations, Jahan’s counsel Kapil Sibal disputed the allegation that Jahan was in touch with the ISIS recruiter.