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Sunday, March 19, 2023

SP MLA Rais K. Shaikh challenges Maha govt order to monitor ‘inter-community marriages’

A Samajwadi Party MLA has filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court challenging the Maharashtra government’s order setting up a Family Coordination Committee (FCC) to monitor inter-faith and inter-caste marriages in the state, here on Friday.

MLA Rais K. Shaikh has said that the Government Resolution (GR) to the effect is discriminatory against a particular religion and violates Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 15 (Right to Life which includes Right to Privacy) and Article 25 (Right to Freedom of Religion) and other articles as enshrined in the Constitution.

The GR of December 13, 2022 came in the wake of the grisly killing of a Palghar girl, Shraddha Walkar in Delhi, allegedly by her inter-faith boyfriend, Shaikh said in the plea filed through lawyer Jeet Gandhi.

“That the assumption that adult women who choose and consent to marry someone from another faith need to be ‘saved’ is misplaced and goes against the spirit of the Constitution,” Shaikh said in his plea.

He claimed that it is the government’s attempt to discourage and/ or prohibit interfaith marriages and is a precursor to the laws related to purported ‘love jihad’ marriages that have been stayed in numerous states in the country.

The government’s FCC is ostensibly intended to provide a platform to ‘counsel, communicate and resolve’ differences between such couples and their estranged families.

Shaikh said that the FCC can intervene at the behest of any person which is a breach of the couple’s privacy, especially when two consenting adults are married to each other.

He pointed out that the discourse around marriage in India fails to place adult individuals at the centre with the family, campaigning vigilante groups and societal forces playing the role to control the lives and determine the future of the young people who have chosen their own partner.

The plea argued that the GR seeks to create a regressive and false narrative that “it is only in inter-faith or inter-caste marriages that a girl is at risk from her partner”.

Besides, Shaikh said that the GR discriminates against a particular religion and encourages a divide among people instead of harmony, co-existence, assimilation and peace.

The FCC is authorised to seek information of both registered and unregistered marriages, which the petition warns could violate several rights of couples who have eloped to marry.

He contended that the GR is ultra vires the Constitution as it was issued unilaterally, in extreme haste, under suspicious circumstances without following due procedures, particularly since distressed women have recourse to other laws like Indian Penal Code and Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

Shaikh said that the GR doesn’t cover those who plan to wed under personal laws and/or in their own religion, and sought that it should be scrapped, and the petition is likely to come up for hearing in due course.

It may be recalled that earlier, the state government’s move had been flayed on various counts, including that it could result in targetting of people belonging to a particular minority.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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