Religious Conversion: ‘How Did Media Get Petition Before Filing?’ Asks Bombay HC On SP MLA Plea

Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court took issue on Monday with the fact that, even before a case challenging the Maharashtra government’s intention to establish an Inter-Faith Marriage Family Coordination Committee was considered by the Court, it had been extensively published in the media.
A Division Bench comprising of Justice GS Patel and Justice Neela Gokhale stated,
“How is it that even before we have seen this petition, every media person has seen it? If you want to test this in 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.”
The bench remarked that the plea was similar to a public interest litigation (PIL), which it had not been assigned to consider. As a result, the subject was referred to the Acting Chief Justice.
“Acting Chief Justice defines the roster. It is determined by him… “It has been ruled that when a matter is heard outside of the roster, the judgement is considered null and void,” the Bench stated, allowing the petitioner to turn the plea into a PIL.
“On the surface, this petition appears to be a PIL. There is no factual information about the petitioner other than his or her name and address. The petitioner is uninterested in the subject topic. He may have a public interest, but it is up to him to pursue it in a proper manner,” the bench stated.
The petition was filed by Samajwadi Party Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Rais Shaikh.
The Inter-Faith Marriage Family Coordination Committee will be led by BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha, who has made headlines for his comments about Hindus receiving danger in a Muslim-dominated district of Bombay.
The Committee will gather information on the number of registered weddings of couples under the Special Marriage Act or inter-faith marriages from registrars, as well as from houses of worship where such marriages have occurred.
It tries to contact the women in such marriages to find out if their families have accepted the marriage. The Committee will use this information to contact the families of such women and arrange counselling sessions to encourage them to accept the marriage.
Shaikh said that the government resolution (GR) was an attempt by the state to discourage and prevent inter-faith weddings, and that it is a forerunner to regulations pertaining to purported “Love Jihad” marriages.
His lawyer claimed that the Committee’s establishment violated Articles 14 (right to equality), 15 (discrimination), 21 (right to life, which includes the right to privacy), and 25 (freedom of religion) of the Indian Constitution.
In his petition, filed through Advocate Jeet Gandhi, the MLA requested that the State remove the GR and declare that it violated the terms of the Special Marriage Act.

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