Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 4
A PIL in the Supreme Court has questioned the legality of allowing Muslims to practise bigamy, contending it went against the very spirit of the Constitution as it discriminated against women.
“Muslim law in so far it permits to have more than one wife at a time is against the very spirit of the Constitution as it discriminates on the basis of gender and there is no valid reason for continuing polygamy or bigamy in the national interest,” petitioners Kiran Singh and a Lucknow-based NGO submitted.
The petition filed through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain challenged the validity of Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, that recognised bigamy or polygamy among the Muslims and sought reading down Section 494 of the IPC, which allows such marriages among the Muslims while making it punishable with a seven-year jail term for members of other communities.
“The second marriage solemnised by a Hindu, Christian or Parsi during the lifetime of his spouse would be punishable under Section 494 of the IPC but at the same time, such marriage is not punishable if contacted by a Muslim.
“Therefore, Section 494 is making discrimination only on the basis of religion, which is per se in violation of Article 14 and 15(1) of the Constitution of India,” the petitioners said, adding bigamy made the life of women miserable, pitiable and disgraceful.
“This system is in fact, exploitative of women and against the spirit of human dignity, decency, and equality, the basic theme of the Constitutional framework,” the petitioners submitted.
Criminal law could not be based on caste, creed, caste or religion, they added.