The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to hear a petition filed by a group of citizens against the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018, as a similar petition is pending before the apex court.
A division bench of Justice BR Gavai and Justice AM Dhavale noted that since the matter was already before the Supreme Court, it was not inclined to hear it.
The writ petition was filed by a group of citizens comprising ex-municipal councillor Masud Ansari, Rising Voice Foundation, an NGO; and advocate Devendra Mishra. It challenged the constitutional validity of the ordinance and alleged that it targets Muslim men as under Section 4 of the ordinance, any Muslim man who pronounces talaq-e-biddat or any such talaq which has the effect of instantaneous divorce will be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to three years. Under Section 7, the offence is made cognizable, compoundable and no bail shall be granted to the accused under the Act unless the magistrate is satisfied that grounds for bail are made out.
On Monday, the court was informed by the Union of India that a similar petition had been filed before the Supreme Court. It was submitted that the outcome of the said petition should be awaited before the high court decides to hear the matter.
However, petitioner’s counsel Tanvir Nizam argued that merely because a similar plea was pending before the Supreme Court that does not act as a stay on the proceedings before the high court. He also said that the high court had complete jurisdiction to hear the matter on interim reliefs sought in the petition.
The petition had sought an interim stay on Sections 4 and 7 of the said ordinance. But, the court refused to entertain the matter any further and disposed of the petition.
Whether the petition has been dismissed or not is not clear, but petitioner’s lawyer Tanvir Nizam confirmed to LiveLaw that he would be moving the Supreme Court in the matter as soon as a copy of the order is available.