Marriage is defined as “the civil status of one man and one woman united in law for life, for the discharge to each other and the community of the duties legally incumbent on those whose association is founded on the distinction of sex”. That’s why monogamy is legalised all over the country. But some people do not take it seriously as they convert in Islam just because Islam gives permission to marry four women. People take conversion as a joke. Sarla Mudgal was the first case in which the first step was taken to ban this type of conversion.
Our Constitution grants the freedom to follow and profess any faith, which also requires the freedom to convert to any other religion not allotted by birth to a citizen. With different sects and personal laws, however, this clause is often misused. Bigamy is punishable under the IPC by all faiths, except those tribes or groups where polygamy is allowed by personal rule, such as Muslim law. All a person has to do is renounce his faith and follow Islam in order to commit bigamy. The cases of men doing this are not rare. Under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act and the Separate Marriage Act, if the first marriage already occurs under that act, the second marriage of either party is invalid.
In other words, the second marriage is not legitimate after the conversion of any other religion that allows bigamy. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, however, did not define the status of a person who was married after conversion. It declares subsequent marriage between two Hindus is void if their partner is living and they have not divorced at that time. This issue was scrutinized by the Supreme Court at length in the landmark case of Sarla Mudgal & Ors. v. Union of India and it settled the ambiguity surrounding the rights, duties and obligations of people who change religion to defeat the law. The court held that a change of religion does not permit a person to defeat the provisions of law and to commit bigamy.
In this case there was 4 petitions filed by Sarla Mudgal, Sunita Narula, Geeta Rani, Sushmita Ghosh because their husband converted their faith to Islam so that they can marry another women. Court held that:-
“When a marriage takes place under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 certain rights and status are acquired by both the parties, and if one of the parties is allowed to dissolve the marriage by adopting and enforcing a new personal law, it would destroy the existing rights of the spouse who continues to be Hindu. A marriage performed under the act cannot be dissolved except on the grounds given under Section 13 of the same act. Until this is done neither can marry again. The second marriage of an apostate would, therefore, be illegal marriage qua his wife who married him under the Act and continues to be Hindu. It further held that such marriage is violative of justice, equity, and good conscience. It also emphasized the need for harmonious working of the two systems of law, in the same manner as to bring harmony between two communities”.
The court held that the contention of the petitioner that the judgment of Sarla Mudgal amounts to the violation of freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion as guaranteed under Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution, is farfetched and is alleged by those who hide behind the cloak of religion to escape the law.
The petition also argued that it would be against Islam to hold converts responsible for practising polygamy. The supreme court noted the petitioners’ ignorance and correctly said that even under Islamic rule, the Prophet Mohammad maintained the integrity of marriage. In his faith, the understanding of Islamic law in the modern sense will never justify such actions. Islam is a secular, pious and revered faith that, as the petitioners have supposedly done, should not be granted a limited definition.
In Literal sense, court held that the Conversion is not a joke, which can played whenever we want to. Conversion is based on faith, not on the lust of the persons to marry another women just because they don’t want to divorce their first wife, but also don’t want to leave another women. Citizens have right to profess any religion, but they don’t have the right to use any religion just for their own benefit. As Sarla Mudgal case and Lily Thomas rightly pointed out that a man can only marry another women even after converting their faith to Islam or any other which allows polygamy, when they have dissolved their previous marriage. Because of this no man would be able to play with the emotions of women or effect them mentally.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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