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Human Rights

Assam Government Seeks Public Input on Proposed Polygamy Ban

Himanta Biswa Sarma. Photo: Twitter

The Assam state government has invited public suggestions regarding the potential prohibition of polygamy in the region. This move comes after an expert committee’s report recommended the enactment of a law against polygamy in the state.

The expert committee’s report highlighted the jurisdiction of both the Union and the states to create legislation pertaining to marriage, as it falls under the Concurrent list.

According to the Doctrine of Repugnancy, if a state law conflicts with a central law, the central law takes precedence, unless the state law has received prior approval from the President of India.

Furthermore, the report emphasized the constitutional provisions of Articles 25 and 26, which guarantee religious freedom and freedom of conscience. However, these rights are not absolute and can be regulated by laws related to social welfare, public morality, health, and order.

The report particularly highlighted that, based on judicial precedents, having multiple wives is not considered an essential tenet of Islam.

“With respect to Islam, the courts have held that having more than one wife is not an essential part of the religion. Legislation limiting the number of wives does not interfere with the right to practice religion and is within the scope of social welfare and reform. Hence, laws favouring monogamy do not violate Article 25,” the committee said in the report.

Drawing upon these principles, the committee recommended granting the Assam government the legal authority to introduce a state-level legislation that would prohibit polygamy. This recommendation has initiated a broader dialogue on the issue, which is being extended to the general public through a draft bill. As part of the consultation process, the public is invited to provide their valuable input on the proposed polygamy ban until August 30.

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