Polygamous Marriage in India

Polygamy means a system of marriage whereby a person has more than one spouse. Thus polygamy became illegal in India in 1956, uniformly for all of its citizens except for Muslims, who are permitted to have four wives and for Hindus in Goa and along the western coast where bigamy is legal. A polygamous Hindu marriage is null and void. While the punishment specified in Sections 494 and 495 is applicable, it is rare if the first spouse does not have an objection.

Types of polygamy

There are two types of polygamy:

  • Polygyny

It is that system of marriage wherein a man has multiple wives. It is the most common form of polygamy. In ancient India, kings and rulers were known to have multiple wives. Other people in high positions of power too followed this practice. It was a means for them to establish and exert their power as marriage often came with more wealth, land and titles. It was also seen as a status symbol as only a man with wealth and means could afford to have more than one wife.

  • Polyandry

It is that system of marriage wherein a woman has multiple husbands. This is, however, a very rare sight. Also, polyandry does not hold the same status as polygyny.

Hindu polygamy

The Hindu marriage act was drafted, which prohibited marriage of a Hindu whose spouse was still living.

Legally the second wife of a Hindu would be a mistress, although religiously and socially she may be considered a wife.

Polygamy among Hindus is sometimes accepted in some rural area, often with approval by earlier wives. Husbands of women with no children are more likely to have multiple wives

Muslim polygamy

Under the Muslim personal law, a male Muslim can marry and keep four wives or spouses simultaneously. Such marriage is valid and lawful under Muslim personal law. Though a male Muslim can keep four wives simultaneously, the vice versa is not applicable.

A female Muslim cannot marry more than one person. She cannot have more than one spouse. This shows the legal status of polygamy under Muslim marriage. Many Muslims women have raised their voice against the practice of polygamy.

Punishment for polygamy in India

The punishment for bigamy is imprisonment, which may extend till 7 years or fine or both. In case the person charged of bigamy has performed the second marriage by hiding the fact of first marriage, then he shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years or fine or both.

Aishwarya Says:

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.

Do follow me on FacebookTwitter  Youtube and Instagram.

The copyright of this Article belongs exclusively to Ms. Aishwarya Sandeep. Reproduction of the same, without permission will amount to Copyright Infringement. Appropriate Legal Action under the Indian Laws will be taken.

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