A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court by Advocate Vishnu Shankar seeking Declaration of Bigamy as unconstitutional for everyone. The petition seeks removal of Section 494 of the IPC and Section 2 of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application act, 1937 which recognizes practice of Bigamy/Polygamy in Muslim community.
The practice of bigamy cannot be allowed for one religious community alone while it is prohibited for persons from other religions, a plea before the Supreme Court has stated seeking a declaration that the practice is unconstitutional, oppressive towards women, and opposed to equality.
The petition states that- “The second marriage solemnized by a Hindu, Christian or Parsi during the life time of his spouse would be punishable under Section 494 of 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 plea further seeks a declaration that the system of bigamous marriage is irrational, illogical, discriminatory and oppressive for women and ultra vires Articles 14 and 15(1) of the Constitution of India.
Its contended by the petitioner that article 25 of the Constitution of India protects only essential religious practice of a religion and personal law of the subjects not the things not connected with religion and Bigamy is not essential part of Muslim religion.
The main moto of plea is to state that state cannot make criminal law in a manner that creates discrimination by making Bigamy Punishable for some and enjoyable for some.
The plea has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India to declare that the bigamy which is so far applicable in India by Section 2 of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 is ultra vires to Article 14 of the Constitution by virtue of Article 13(1) of the Constitution.
Section 494 of IPC says that- ‘Whoever, having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine’.
The petitioners pray that words ‘in any case in which such marriage is void by reasons of its taking place’ which exists in Section 494 to strike down.
This part under the section acts as protection to Bigamous Marriage among Muslim men.