New Delhi: In what has proved to be an exercise in futility after employing valuable manpower and resources, the Supreme Court has returned the investigation reports submitted to it by the NIA in connection with the Kerala's 'love jihad' case. These reports, at least three of them, were not even opened by the top court, which had on its own ordered the investigation.
“As per office report, sealed envelopes have been received from NIA since the matter is disposed of. The sealed envelope be sent back to NIA,” a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar has now ordered.
This officially puts an end to the investigation, which began after the Kerala High Court had annulled Hadiya’s interfaith marriage.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted the probe spanning over six months on the direction of the apex court. The investigation was ordered in August 2017 despite a strong protest by Hadiya’s husband, who had come to the Supreme Court for the restoration of their marriage.
The court had also brushed aside the objections raised by the Kerala government against the transfer of the probe to the central agency and asked the NIA to file periodical reports as to whether there was any pattern and conspiracy behind interfaith marriages in the state. The pertinent order was passed by the bench of then CJI JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud.
There were as many as three status reports submitted by the NIA between August and December 2017. Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, representing the NIA, reminded the court several times that the bench must take stock of the investigation since it was being done on its orders.
By this time, Justice Khehar had retired and new CJI Dipak Misra was presiding over the bench, which declined to look into the NIA’s reports. The new bench did not pay heed to Singh’s requests and every time the reports were mentioned during the proceedings, the court said the NIA could do whatever it thought was proper. No report was ever opened and perused by the bench.
The new bench had a new outlook and it focused on Hadiya’s wishes. The 25-year-old woman was interviewed by the bench. Finally, in March this year, the court restored Hadiya’s marriage, holding that she is free to follow her pursuits and lead her life her own way.
As far as the NIA was concerned, the bench said the agency was free to investigate other instances of criminality. The investigation reports, however, remained pending with the court since March. These status reports, intact in their original sealed cover envelopes, have now been ordered to be returned to the NIA.
Questions arise as to what can be the justification for an exercise which was commenced by the Supreme Court with great zeal but was ended in complete disdain? Why the time and resources of the country’s premier investigating agency for interstate offences were drawn on by the highest court of the land if it was never going to even take a look at these reports? And why it chose not to stop the investigation midway if the new bench was convinced that the NIA did not have any role in probing something as private as marriage?
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