The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Centre’s response on a petition to have bigamy or polygamy by a Muslim husband declared illegal if his first wife does not consent, Bar and Bench reported.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Navin Chawla asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Minority Affairs to file replies within six weeks.
The court was hearing public interest litigation filed by a Muslim woman, Reshma, asking the Centre to frame laws to regulate the practice of polygamy among Muslim men.
Reshma said that her husband left her after pronouncing triple talaq, or instant divorce, and was planning to remarry without her consent or making arrangements for her and their 11-month-old, she said.
In 2019, Parliament had made Triple Talaq a criminal offence. However, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, was later challenged in the Supreme Court. A plea argued that the law was unconstitutional.
“Even in countries governed by Shariah [Islamic] law, the second marriage is permitted under special circumstances, such as an illness of the first wife or her inability to bear children,” the petition read, PTI reported. “In these cases, with the first wife’s consent, a man may marry again and this is referred to as polygamy, a subset of polygamous marriages.”
The plea also submitted that a law should be framed to mandate the registration of a Muslim marriage, the Live Law reported.
“Presently, nobody considers the plight of a Muslim woman who is left traumatic, penniless without fault of hers, solely due to polygamy contracted by her husband,” the petition stated.
Reshma further submitted that polygamy or bigamy is regressive to the rights of women.
“It is unfortunate that regressive practices derogatory to women, who constitute one half of the Indian population, are being followed, propagated, and encouraged in the name of religion,” her plea said, PTI reported. “Such practices, regressive to rights of women and which directly come into conflict with the Constitutional and fundamental rights of citizens cannot be encouraged.”
The Delhi High Court posted the matter for hearing on August 23.