Supreme Court asks top agency to probe “love jihad”

August 18, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, August 18, 2017: The Supreme Court has asked the National Investigation Agency to probe what has come to be dubbed “love jihad.”

This was done after the top probe agency told the apex court on August 16 that there was evidence to suggest that some extremist outfits linked to a banned group were involved in converting Hindu girls to Islam and their gradual radicalization toward the Islamic State’s ideology.

The bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud took on record a sealed report of the central agency’s preliminary findings, reports telegraphindia.com.

The directive came amid protests from senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising, who appeared for Shafin Jahan, the petitioner in the case.

Jahan had moved the top court requesting that Akhila alias Hadiya, a Hindu girl who had converted to Islam and married him, be produced. Kerala High Court had earlier nullified the marriage on the ground that the girl had been indoctrinated.

The top court appointed former Supreme Court judge R.V. Raveendran to vet the contents of the investigation report to be submitted by the NIA to allay the petitioner’s fears of possible bias.

Earlier, on August 10, the apex court had directed the Kerala crime branch to hand over its investigation report on the alleged “love jihad” to the NIA. Today’s sealed report submitted by the NIA followed that directive.

Additional solicitor-general Maninder Singh, who appeared for the agency, told the court the NIA’s preliminary findings based on the investigations carried out by Kerala police indicated that Akhila’s case was “not an isolated incident.”

Singh, who appeared along with advocate R. Balasubramanyam, said there was another similar case of conversion involving the same organizations and individuals.

“The entities also appear to be the same. The pattern appears to be the girl having a disagreement with her parents. After the disagreement the girls leave home and somebody comes to give them shelter. The person who has given shelter to these girls is the same person… and this requires investigation,” Singh said.

“In both cases the organizations were involved in getting the women shelter. These organizations and people have some links with Simi,” Singh added, referring to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India and apparently summarizing the contents of the preliminary report the NIA had submitted in the sealed cover.

The ASG said that in both the cases it had been found that members of these organizations married off the girls who had left home before the matter reached the high court.

Sibal said the bench should interview the girl, who is now in the custody of her parents, to verify whether she had indeed been radicalized.

Justice Khehar then referred to the recent spate of suicides by children and teenagers addicted to the online game Blue Whale, which sets a series of tasks to players with the final challenge of requiring him or her to commit suicide.

“Have you ever heard about the Blue Whale challenge? Such things can make people do anything,” Justice Khehar told Sibal.

Sibal insisted that the bench interview the girl; only then would they agree to a probe by the NIA.

“We will not ask her till we need to ask her,” the bench replied.

That prompted Sibal to say: “Your lordships are prejudging the issue.”

Sibal said the Kerala crime branch should continue with the investigation as he did not trust the NIA. But the bench said the NIA was an independent agency and, moreover, a former apex court judge would vet its findings.

“If you don’t want an independent judicial mind to examine it, then we will have to pass order,” the CJI said.

Jaising said the court must speak to Akhila to find out if she was of a “weak mind” and susceptible to indoctrination.

The court said it would examine the girl personally if and when the situation arose.

The bench wanted to appoint K.S. Radhakrishnan, a former Supreme Court judge and a Malayali, to vet the NIA investigation report once it is submitted.

But Sibal and Jaising both insisted that the former judge should be somebody from outside Kerala and suggested the names of former CJI T.S. Thakur and S.S. Nijjar, another former judge of the top court.

The CJI, after consulting Justice Chandrachud, said the court was appointing Justice Raveendran to vet the findings.

Advocate Madhavi Divan, who appeared for Akhila’s father, placed in the court documents she claimed proved that the girl had been indoctrinated by radical elements.

– matters india

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