HC seeks Centre’s response on petition on polygamy

The petitioner proposed that such marriages be strictly regulated

The petitioner proposed that such marriages be strictly regulated


The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Centre to respond to a petition to declare bigamy or polygamy by a Muslim husband, in the absence of prior consent of the existing wife or wives, as illegal.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla gave the direction on a petition by a woman, Reshma, who said her husband is “planning to divorce” her and solemnise another marriage without taking her consent or making arrangements for Ms. Reshma and their child. 

Ms. Reshma, in her petition, sought directions to be framed to regulate polygamy by placing certain conditions on Muslim husbands looking to solemnise another marriage. She proposed that such husbands should be required to furnish a certificate from a judicial officer, which certifies that the husband has the capacity to provide equal treatment to all wives.

The petitioner also sought the framing of laws for compulsory registration of Muslim marriages. She stated that bigamy or polygamy by a Muslim husband is permitted under Shariat laws only in exceptional circumstances and added that such marriages be strictly regulated.

She contended that bigamy or polygamy without the consent of the existing wife and securing her well-being was “unconstitutional, anti-Shariat, illegal, arbitrary, harsh, inhuman, and barbaric.”

“Even in countries governed by Shariah [Islamic] law, the second marriage is permitted under special circumstances, such as an illness of the first wife or her inability to bear children. In these cases, after taking the consent of the first wife, a man may marry again. This is referred to as polygamy,” her plea said.

In her petition Ms. Reshma said, “Polygamy is only permitted in certain circumstances, such as when the death of another man has left his wife with no other means of support.”

The plea stated that polygamy was neither mandatory nor encouraged but was merely permitted as a social duty and for charitable motives. It added that the Holy Quran says that those men who choose to take multiple wives are under an obligation to treat them equally.

“It is unfortunate that regressive practices derogatory to women, who constitute one-half of the Indian population, are being followed, propagated, and encouraged in the name of religion. Such practices, regressive to rights of women and which directly come into conflict with the fundamental rights of citizens cannot be encouraged,” the petition said.

The High Court will hear the case again on August 23.

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Printable version | Aug 31, 2022 11:43:49 am |