20 March,2023 01:36 PM IST | Mumbai | PTI
The Bombay High Court on Monday permitted Samajwadi Party MLA Rais Shaikh to convert his petition against the Maharashtra government*s decision to set up an inter-faith marriage coordination committee into a public interest litigation (PIL).
A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale noted that the petition seemed to be in the nature of a PIL and hence the petitioner (Shaikh) could convert the same into a PIL.
Other than the name and address of the petitioner, there is no statement of fact about the petitioner. The petitioner is not concerned with the subject matter. He may have public interest but then it is open to him to take it up in an appropriate manner," the bench said.
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A failed marriage?
The judges wondered how the petition was circulated in the media even before it could be taken up by the high court.
How is it that, even before we have seen this petition, every media person has seen it? If you want to test this in the media forum, then don*t waste our time. Every media forum has seen this. If you want them to decide, we couldn*t care less," Justice Patel said.
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The Maharashtra government had issued a government resolution (GR) in December 2022, setting up a panel- "Intercaste/ Interfaith marriage- family coordination committee (state level)", to gather detailed information about couples in such marriages and maternal families of the women involved if they are estranged.
The committee comprising 13 members is to be headed by Women and Child Development Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha.
Shaikh had filed a petition earlier this month stating the committee was violative of articles 14 (right to equality), 15 (forbidding discrimination), 21 (right to life which includes the right to privacy), and 25 (right to freedom of religion) of the Constitution.
In the plea filed through advocate Jeet Gandhi, the MLA requested that the state government be directed to withdraw the said GR and declare that the same is in violation of the provisions of the Special Marriage Act.
Shaikh alleged the GR was an attempt by the government to discourage and forbid inter-faith marriages and is a precursor to laws related to alleged *love jihad* marriages.
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