A welcome quietus: on Hadiya case verdict

Hadiya has at last won her freedom. The curious aspect of her case is that it took such a long time for the courts to acknowledge that the 25-year-old woman from Kerala enjoys as much freedom of choice in her marriage as in her religious belief. The Kerala High Court had caused quite a muddle when it annulled her marriage solely on the suspicion that it was a ruse to scuttle habeas corpus proceedings before it. On her father’s complaint that she had been indoctrinated and brainwashed into embracing Islam, and his fear that she was a victim of a movement to convert Hindu women and send them to overseas battle zones, the high court ordered her confinement in her parents’ home. The Supreme Court’s categorical ruling that the high court was wrong in invalidating a marriage under its writ jurisdiction constitutes a welcome end to the unjustified curtailment of her freedom of movement and her life choices. The verdict, for which detailed reasons are yet to be pronounced, restores the liberty of Ms. Hadiya, who chose to convert to Islam more than a year ago and later married a Muslim man. Last November, the apex court had freed her from her parents’ custody and allowed her to complete her internship as part of a homoeopathy course she had taken up in Tamil Nadu. However, even this was somewhat unsatisfactory, as it appeared to be a compromise between being in parental custody and being allowed to live with her husband.

It is possible that her father, K.M. Asokan, was gripped by fear as her conversion came amid reports of radical groups recruiting young people on behalf of the Islamic State. The high court did not question her conversion, but suspected the veracity of her claim that she was married, as it happened in a day’s break between hearings. However, these facts were not enough for the court to annul the marriage and label it a “sham”. The court made odd observations on how a woman’s marriage requires the involvement of her parents and that Ms. Hadiya was “at a vulnerable age”. Even in the Supreme Court, Ms. Hadiya could explain to the judges that she stood by her marriage to Shafin Jahan only after other parties had advanced arguments on “indoctrination” and “conspiracy” and the National Investigation Agency had its say. Finally, the court has now given primacy to her view. The implications of her ordeal are disquieting: it is not difficult in this country to question the life choices of an adult woman by casting doubts on her volition and personal autonomy, and her freedom to choose her way of life can sometimes be judicially curtailed. While a lawful investigation into organised recruitment by radical groups must not be impeded, courts should strive even harder to protect personal freedoms without being swayed by mere suspicion.




1) Muddle

Meaning: Bring into a disordered or confusing state.

Example: “They were muddling up the cards”

Synonyms: Confuse, Mix up, Jumble

2) Annulled

Meaning: Declare invalid (an official agreement, decision, or result).

Example: “The elections were annulled by the general amid renewed protests”

Synonyms: Declare invalid, Declare null and void

Antonyms: Restore, Enact

3) Ruse

Meaning: An action intended to deceive someone; a trick.

Example: “Emma tried to think of a ruse to get Paul out of the house”

Synonyms: Ploy, Stratagem

4) Scuttle

Meaning: Run hurriedly or furtively with short quick steps.

Example: “A mouse scuttled across the floor”

Synonyms: Scamper, Scurry

5) Habeas corpus

Meaning: A writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.

Example: “His application for habeas corpus”

6) Confinement

Meaning: The action of confining or state of being confined.

Example: “He was immediately released from his confinement”

Synonyms: Imprisonment, Internment

Antonyms: Liberty

7) Indoctrinated

Meaning: Teach (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

Example: “Broadcasting was a vehicle for indoctrinating the masses”

Synonyms: Brainwash, Propagandize

8) Embracing

Meaning: Accept (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.

Example: “Besides traditional methods, artists are embracing new technology”

Synonyms: Welcome, Accept

Antonyms: Reject

9) Writ

Meaning: A form of written command in the name of a court or other legal authority to act, or abstain from acting, in a particular way.

Example: “The two reinstated officers issued a writ for libel against the applicants”

Synonyms: Summons, Subpoena

10) Curtailment

Meaning: The action or fact of reducing or restricting something.

Example: “The curtailment of human rights”

Synonyms: Reduction, Cut

Antonyms: Increase, Expansion

11) Verdict

Meaning: A decision on an issue of fact in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.

Example: “The jury returned a verdict of not guilty”

Synonyms: Judgement, Adjudication

12) Gripped

Meaning: Take and keep a firm hold of; grasp tightly.

Example: “His knuckles were white as he gripped the steering wheel”

Synonyms: Grasp, Clutch

Antonyms: Release, Hold lightly

13) Amid

Meaning: Surrounded by; in the middle of.

Example: “Our dream home, set amid magnificent rolling countryside”

Synonyms: In the middle of, Surrounded by

Antonyms: Surrounding

14) Veracity

Meaning: Conformity to facts; accuracy.

Example: “Officials expressed doubts concerning the veracity of the story”

Synonyms: Truthfulness, Truth

Antonyms: Falsity

15) Conspiracy

Meaning: A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

Example: “A conspiracy to destroy the government”

Synonyms: Plot, Scheme

16) Implications

Meaning: The conclusion that can be drawn from something although it is not explicitly stated.

Example: “The implication is that no one person at the bank is responsible”

Synonyms: Suggestion, Inference

Antonyms: Explicit statement

17) Ordeal

Meaning: A very unpleasant and prolonged experience.

Example: “The ordeal of having to give evidence”

Synonyms: Trial, Tribulation

18) Volition

Meaning: The faculty or power of using one’s will.

Example: “Without conscious volition she backed into her office”

19) Impeded

Meaning: Delay or prevent (someone or something) by obstructing them; hinder.

Example: “The sap causes swelling which can impede breathing”

Synonyms: Hinder, Obstruct

Antonyms: Facilitate

20) Strive

Meaning: Struggle or fight vigorously.

Example: “Scholars must strive against bias”

Synonyms: Attempt, Endeavour

21) Swayed

Meaning: Move or cause to move slowly or rhythmically backwards and forwards or from side to side.

Example: “He swayed slightly on his feet”

Synonyms: Swing, Shake

22) Suspicion

Meaning: A feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

Example: “She had a sneaking suspicion that he was laughing at her”

Synonyms: Intuition, Feeling

Antonyms: Certainty