Hadiya looked stoic, as judges and top advocates of the country debated the fate of her marriage to Shafin Jahan.

Hadiyas case What happened in Court Hall No 1 of the Supreme Court
news Law Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 09:10

25-year-old Hadiya walked into the Chief Justice's court hall a couple of minutes before 3pm on Monday, she was clad in a red salwar, a veil neatly covering her head. 

She walked into the packed court room accompanied by her parents Ponnamma and Ashokan, her face not betraying her thoughts even once.

But as she walked out of the court post the hearing, Hadiya was beaming. For this was the first time in months that Hadiya had been allowed to tell her side of the story. 

As Hadiya testified in court and repeatedly said that she should be allowed to go with her husband, Shafin Jahan was present in the hall. Both looked stoic, tensed as judges and top advocates of the country debated the fate of their marriage.

What happened in Court Hall No 1  

As the proceedings began at 3pm, advocate Shyam Divan appearing for Hadiya's father Ashokan pressed for in-camera proceedings. 

Saying that there was a change in circumstance, Shyam Divan argued that the SC bench should first consider the NIA report before interacting with Hadiya. The lawyer requested the court to reconsider their earlier order for an open court hearing. He argued that there was “tremendous organisational support" and that the court must interact with Hadiya in a closed atmosphere.

Heated arguments followed, with Kapil Sibal who was representing Shafin Jahan insisting that the court must first interact with Hadiya without delay. 

"She is an adult who wants to decide what to do with her life," Kapil sibal argued. 

The lawyer also argued that even if her decision to marry Shafin had been wrong, it was her own choice and that she was entitled to decide her life. 

The court proceeded to seek the take of all lawyers who were party to the case, on whether the NIA material must be considered first or not. 

"This is not even preventive custody, but unlawful custody. What crime has she done,” Kapil Sibal said. 

He reminded that Hadiya had been produced at the court's direction, and senior advocate Indira Jaising opposed the delay the bench showed in speaking to Hadiya. 

"She is a woman with agency; she has come all the way to talk to you, not us. Speak to her," Indira Jaising said. 

She asked the judges if Hadiya would have been treated the same way if she had been a man and not a woman. There were choruses of ‘No, no’ from the judges with a bewildered CJI asking where did gender come in all this.

At this point, advocate PV Dinesh, appearing for the State Women’s Commission of Kerala intervened to argue that the court not speaking to Hadiya was an insult to her. 

"What impression is she getting? It's a great insult to her; she has been standing here for more than an hour. She is a doctor!" Dinesh argued. 

Following this, the court began interacting with Hadiya. Hadiya was asked in which subject she has graduated in, to which Hadiya was unable to answer. It was pointed out that although Hadiya could understand English, she couldn't talk in the language. Advocate Giri (representing the state of Kerala) then stood next to Hadiya to translate her replies in Malayalam to English. 

The bench asked Hadiya what school she studied in at her hometown Vaikkom and enquired the distance between Vaikkom and her college in Salem. 

All eyes were on Hadiya, as she began to reply to the bench's queries in Malayalam. 

Following are a few questions posed by the SC bench to Hadiya and her replies. 

Court: Where did you stay in Salem?

Hadiya: A few of my friends and I rented out a house in Salem while we were studying.

Court: Why did you choose to study medicine? 

Hadiya: My parents selected the course for me. 

Court: Do you want to continue your studies? 

Hadiya: Yes, I completed 4.5 years of the course, did one month of internship. I'm interested in completing my internship. 

Court: What is the distance from Vaikkom to Salem, do you used to visit home frequently? 

Hadiya: Yes, I used to visit frequently, either weekly or monthly. 

Court: What did you do in your free time, did you have any hobbies? 

Hadiya: Used to do something on laptop (missed that part).

Court: What about food?

Hadiya: We cooked for ourselves. 

Court: As a child, who was closest to you in the family?

Hadiya: Parents and a cousin. 

Court: What are your dreams for the future?

Hadiya: I want to be free. (In Malayalam, she said 'swathanthryam.")

(Before Giri could translate her reply, the bench remarked that her reply needed no translation, it was understood.)

Court: Where are you staying here?

Hadiya: Kerala House.

Giri: She wants to say something. 

Justice Chandrachud said he wants to ask one more question. 

Justice:  While growing up, we all know that we will have to stand on our own feet. Our parents won’t take care of us forever. So, you must have the ability to stand on your own feet.

Hadiya: I want to complete housesurgeoncy by staying true to my faith. I feared I will be harassed, that's why I left home. I want to complete my course and live as a doctor who lives according to her faith. I feared what my parents would do; I knew they would be an obstacle for me to follow my faith. They said I should be a Hindu, I knew how they will react; they wouldn't have accepted my faith. 

CJI Misra: Does she want to continue her studies in the same college at the states expense?

Hadiya: I want to continue my course but i want to see my husband. I am in illegal confinement for last 11 months, 5 months in HC's confinement & 6 months in family's confinement. Can I see my husband?

Court: Husband cannot stay in the Hostel, you attend the course. Who do you want as your guardian?

Hadiya: My husband. I want someone who accepts me as Hadiya. 

Court: Then suggest.

Hadiya: Shafin Jahan. 

Court (Justice Chandrachud): No husband is a wife's guardian, I don't think I am. 

Hadiya said that she wants to first go to Malappuram to meet her friend and then go to Salem.

The court then dictated the order allowing Hadiya to go back to her college in Salem and pursue her studies. 

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