'Polygamy Discriminatory Against Women': SC
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NEW DELHI: Taking an antagonistic view to the practice of polygamy, Supreme Court has observed that it doesn’t serve women’s rights and is against the idea of their personal liberty. SC, while adjudicating on Hindu Accession Act, said that Muslim Personal Law doesn’t prevent against arbitrary divorce and it must evolve with the changing times.
Polygamy is “injurious to public morals”, opined the apex court and called it an evil practice equivalent to Sati pratha, which just like the latter, must be abolished. A two member bench of Justices Anil R Dave and AK Goel, made the remarks in passing during a hearing related to inheritance rights for women.
"In Javed vs State of Haryana, a Bench of three judges observed that practice of polygamy is injurious to public morals and can be superseded by the state just as practice of 'sati'. It was further observed that conduct rules providing for monogamy irrespective of religion are valid and could not be struck down on the ground of violation of personal law of Muslims," the bench noted.
The judges have requested the Chief Justice to constitute a bench to hear on the matter of polygamy and ordered that it be registered as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
Taking a suo moto cognizance of the discrimination faced by women under the Muslim personal law, the Court said that, “an important issue of gender discrimination which though not directly involved in this appeal, has been raised by some of the counsel for the parties which concerns rights to Muslim women. Discussions on gender discrimination led to this issue also."
"It was pointed out that in spite of guarantee of the Constitution; Muslim women are subjected to discrimination. There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting in denial of dignity and security to her," it further remarked.
The Court also ordered that a notice be issued to Attorney General of India and National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) to seek their views.