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Is Polygamy Legal In India?

Simply put, Polygamy is actually illegal in India under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). That is for all the religions of India except Islam. For Muslim men, Polygamy is actually legal in India, and they can have four wives at a time as per the Sharia Islamic law. If you want to know about the specific rules and laws regarding polygamy in India, then keep on reading because that’s what we are all about. Alright, here we go now.


What Are The Laws Regarding Polygamy In India?

In India, whether you can have more than one spouse depends on what religion you follow. To every Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist within it, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 makes it quite clear: a person cannot practice polygamy. For that matter, if a person marries another when the first one is around or alive and sound, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to a fine. However, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937 allows Muslim men to marry up to four wives. This very law, regarding the marrying of four wives, has come under question in courts and has got landmark rulings from the Supreme Court.

What Does The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Say About Polygamy?

The proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) wants to unify marriage, divorce, and inheritance laws for every Indian citizen, no matter their religion. This could shake up things for communities where polygamy is still practiced, like some Muslim and tribal groups. The debate has been described as very fiery, with very firm opinions from both sides in regard to how the UCC should roll out, having the potential to affect various cultural practices.

The practice of polygamy is followed by different communities throughout India. Though the influence is gradually decreasing with better education and modern trends, but still exists in life among certain tribal and rural areas as part of their tradition. How society views marriage and relationships is also changing, which affects how people think about polygamy today.

And yes, a number of major court cases have helped define the legal landscape of polygamy in India. In this respect, special mention may be made of the Sarla Mudgal case, where the court ruled that conversion from one religion to another only for the purpose of solemnizing a second marriage did not enable the person to escape from the scope of the monogamy rule.


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