February 13, 2024

Imagine a time when monarchs kept backup queens in case one of them became infertile, or when they married to expand their kingdoms throughout the nation. Bigamy, the practice of males getting their religion changed to Islam in order to consummate a second marriage without annulling their first, gave this custom a completely new look in contemporary India.

Bigamy, then, is the practice of one individual getting married to someone else while continuing to be legally married to the first spouse. The actor Dharmendra, who converted to Islam in order to marry Hemamalini, is among the most well-known representatives of this practice in contemporary India.

sarla mudgal case summary

Sarla Mudgal Case Facts:

  • sarla mudgal case citation is 1995 AIR 1531, 1995 SCC (3) 635.
  • Numerous petitions were submitted to the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. In this instance, Sarla Mudgal served as the president of the Kalyani NGO, which assisted disadvantaged women.
  • Meena Mathur, the spouse of Jitender Mathur, discovered that her husband had wed Sunita Narula, also known as Fathima. In order to formalize this marriage, they converted to Islam and took up the faith, a move that was met with resistance from Fathima. Therefore, section 494 of the IPC is relevant to this case.
  • Additionally, a second petition was filed in which Sunita Narula claimed that Jitender Mathur had returned to Hinduism as a result of having been persuaded by his Hindu wife Meena Mathur, and her children.
  • Jitender Mathur consented to keep his first Hindu wife and the children he had with her before getting married, but he refused to keep his second wife, who was still Muslim and not covered by any personal laws, Muslim or Hindu.
  • Once more, in a different petition, the petitioner Geeta Rani wed the respondent Pradeep Kumar in 1988 in accordance with Hindu custom. The petitioner claimed that after her husband had abused her, he had eloped with Deepa, married her, and converted to Islam. Additionally, this petition claimed that converting to Islam would avoid Section 494 of IPC.

Sarla Mudgal Case Issues:

  • Is it possible for a Hindu husband who was married under Hindu law to formally enter into a second marriage by accepting Islam?
  • Would such a marriage be recognized by the first wife, who is still Hindu, even if the original marriage hasn’t been legally dissolved?
  • Whether the Indian Penal Code’s Section 494 would find the apostate husband guilty of the crime?

Contentions by the Petitioners:

  • Collectively, the petitioners said that the respondents became Muslims in order to circumvent Section 494 IPC’s bigamy laws and formally consummate their second marriage to other women.

Contentions by the Respondents:

  • Despite having a first wife who is still Hindu, all of the respondents argued that they may have up to four wives after converting to Islam. The Indian Penal Code and the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 do not apply to them.

sarla mudgal case judgment

  • The judgment in the sarla mudgal vs union of india case was delivered on 10th May, 1995 comprising a two-judge bench of Justice Kuldip Singh and Justice R.M. Sahai.
  • The traditional Hindu marriage law’s doctrine of dissolution of marriage has no bearing on religious conversion. According to Hindu marriage law, a man who converts to a different religion and marries a different lady does not annul the previous marriage.
  • The cornerstone of a civilized society is marriage. Once a marriage bond is established, both parties are bound by a number of responsibilities and liabilities. While Islamic law in India allows a Muslim guy to have up to four wives, as per the 1937 Shariat law, Hindu law mandates monogamy. A Hindu guy converts to Islam in order to escape the obligations placed on him by section 494 of the Indian Penal Code and to formally enter into a second marriage without annulling his first.
  • The Divorce Act contains provisions that allow for the dissolution of a marriage. In the event that one of the partners passes away, the marriage may also be dissolved. A marriage cannot be dissolved under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1954, unless section 13 is used as justification. According to Muslim law, an apostate husband’s second marriage would be in breach of the Act’s clause allowing him to maintain his first marriage.
  • Consequently, a second marriage is forbidden by law. An apostate husband’s second marriage is contrary to natural justice. Allowing someone to be married after becoming an Islamic convert is arbitrary. It is an obvious approach to get around the Indian Penal Code’s section 494 requirement.
  • In order to regulate matters pertaining to marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, child custody, and other matters associated with marital disputes under uniform law necessary to all religious communities uniformly, the Supreme Court of India emphasizes the enactment and application of the Uniform Civil Code in India. Enforcing uniform laws throughout India’s religious sects is the aim of the Uniform Civil Code.       

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