The Bombay High Court Wednesday issued a showcause notice to the chief secretary of the state government asking why the government should not be held in contempt for having failed to file a reply in relation to a matter pertaining to the validity of Darul Qazas (personal law courts) that operate as parallel courts and dispense justice in civil and matrimonial disputes within the Muslim community.
The court had in April given the state a last chance to file its reply, which was not done by the state. On Wednesday, the state said was not in a position to file a reply in compliance with the HC order as it was not able to ascertain which department dealt with this matter.
Taking note of this, the court asked for the advocate general to appear in the matter. However, the public prosecutor said she would argue the matter.
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The court then issued a showcause notice to the chief secretary and asked him to file an affidavit explaining why contempt action should not be initiated for not complying with its April 1 orders.
The PIL, filed by social worker Nazir Noor Ali, says the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) exceeded its memorandum of association and rules when it set up, without legal authority, parallel courts (Darul Qazas) to adjudicate on disputes in the community.
The PIL says the Darul Qazas across Maharashtra should be made to shut down and declared “unconstitutional”. It seeks that orders passed by these be declared void and without legal sanctity.
The AIMPLB was constituted to adopt suitable strategies to protect and apply Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, the PIL says, adding, “However it constituted these parallel Islamic courts which are totally against its main aim and object.”