Daulat Rahman / Guwahati
The Assam government has received 146 motions from various stakeholders supporting three motions opposing the government’s move to legislate outlawing polygamy in the state.
Prime Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma wrote on his X (formerly Twitter) account that a total of 149 proposals were received in response to the public notice issued by his government. Of these proposals, 146 are in favor of the bill, indicating strong public support. However, three organizations expressed their opposition to the bill.
“We will now move to the next stage of the process, which is to complete the final drafting of the bill within the next 45 days,” Prime Minister Sarma said on Twitter.
On 21st August, the Government of Assam sought the suggestions and views of all stakeholders on the proposed law to ban polygamy in the state.
Earlier, the Assam government set up a panel of experts to see if the state had the legislative competence to enact a law to end polygamy.
The Committee of Experts headed by Retired Johati High Court Judge Rumi Kumari Phukan affirmed that since polygamy is not an essential religious practice in Islam, the enactment of any law prohibiting the practice would not prejudice Article 25 (Right to practice, profess and propagate religion). ) of the constitution.
In her report, she stated that the custom of Muslim men marrying up to four wives is not a fundamental religious practice in Islam.
“Under Islamic Personal Status Law, polygamy is permitted but not compulsory. It is not in the nature of an essential practice that every Muslim man must have four wives. Since polygamy is not an essential religious practice under Islam, the enactment of any law prohibiting This practice would not contravene Article 25 (the right to practice, profess and propagate religion) of the Constitution.
According to the Committee of Experts, the legislation has become necessary because polygamy violates the basic rights guaranteed to Muslim women under Articles 14 (the right to equality), 15 (non-discrimination on the basis of sex), and 21 (the right to life and dignity). The committee said that since marriage and divorce fall under the joint list, both the center and the state have legislative competence to enact laws on these two issues. However, she argued that since marriage and divorce issues are preoccupied by pre-existing central law, a law enacted by the state will only be enforceable in its jurisdiction after obtaining presidential approval.
The expert panel said polygamy was abolished among Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs after the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, among Christians under the Christian Marriage Act of 1872, and among Parsis under the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936.
However, Muslims still practice polygamy due to the protections afforded by the Muslim Personal Status Law (Sharia) of 1937.
“The practice of polygamy is mentioned in Surah 4:3 of the Holy Qur’an, from which it is understood that it is permitted but not encouraged,” the committee said, and noted various comments on Islamic personal status laws. She believed that polygamy is not an essential part of Islam.
After the expert panel submitted its report to Prime Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma last week, Sarma said that a new anti-polygamy law will be introduced during the current fiscal year (2023-2024) in case the final decision on a unified civil code is not taken. Symbol (UCC).
The panel of experts chaired by Justice (Ret.) Rumi Kumari Phukan consists of members Devajit Saikia, Solicitor General of Assam, Nalin Kohli, Senior Advocate General of Assam, and Nikipur Zaman, Senior Advocate of Guwahati High Court.