> 1. Is a halant/virama ever valid following other than a consonant (or
> consonant and nukta)?
Legal? In the sense of "any string is legal", yes; as is anything else. The implementation question to answer is whether it's useful or renderable, and if so, how.
The independent vowel followed by a halant could be interpreted as a graphical answer to the question, "What is the sound of one vowel silenced?"
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