Bigamy in India : Sarla Mudgal case. Supreme Court of India. 1995 AIR 1531, 1995 SCC (3) 635.

IPC penalizes bigamy regardless of religion, with the exception of tribes or groups whose particular laws, like Muslim law, allow polygamy. All one needs to do to engage in bigamy is to convert to Islam from his previous faith. Men have been known to act in this way on occasion.

In the historic case of Sarla Mudgal & Ors. v. Union of India, the Supreme Court carefully considered this question and resolved the uncertainty around the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of those who alter their faith in order to circumvent the law. The court ruled that a person cannot break the law and commit bigamy by switching their religion. The case’s in-depth examination is provided below.

Facts of the Case:

Under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court considered four petitions at the same time. Initially, there were two petitioners in Writ Petition 1079/89. Sarla Mudgal, the first petitioner, was the leader of the registered society Kalyani, a not-for-profit organization that promoted the welfare of struggling women and destitute families. Meena Matur, the second petitioner, was married to Jitender Mathur since 1978 and the mother of three children who were not her biological offspring. Once they both embraced Islam, petitioner 2 learned that her spouse had wed Sunita Narula, also known as Fathima. She claims that her husband merely converted to Islam in order to wed Sunita and evade Section 494 of the IPC. Sunita Narula alias Fathima filed a different case under the number Writ Petition 347/1990, in which she claimed that she and the respondent had converted to Islam before being married and had given birth to a kid out of wedlock. But, under the influence of Meena Mathur, the respondent pledged in 1988 that he would preserve his first wife and their three children while reverting to Hinduism. She was not being supported by her husband and had no legal protection because she continued to practice Islam. Finally, the supreme court received a plea that was listed as Writ Petition 424/1992. According to Hindu customs, Geeta Rani, the petitioner, wed Pradeep Kumar in 1988.  Last but not least, Sushmita Ghosh, the petitioner in the civil Writ Petition 509/1992, wed G.C. Ghosh in 1984 using Hindu rituals. Her husband, the respondent, requested a divorce from her by mutual consent in 1992 because he no longer wanted to live with her. As the petitioner further questioned him after being surprised, he confessed that he had converted to Islam and intended to wed Vinita Gupta. She sought in the writ suit that her husband be prevented from getting remarried.


If one of the parties is permitted to dissolve the marriage by adopting and executing a new personal law, it will undermine the existing rights of the spouse who remains to be Hindu. When a marriage occurs under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, certain rights and status are gained by both parties. A marriage consummated in accordance with the Act cannot be annulled other than for the reasons specified in Section 13 of the same Act. Neither can get married again till this is completed. Because his wife was married to him under the Act and is still a Hindu, the second marriage of an apostate would be prohibited. It further said that such marriages violate equality, justice, and morality. The court further determined that Section 494 of the CPL would apply to the apostate spouse. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and the Indian Criminal Code use the term “void” differently. The prior Hindu marriage would not be dissolved by conversion to Islam and remarriage on its own under the Act, but it would be a reason for divorce. The second marriage would be void, and the apostate husband would be guilty under IPC, according to the components of Section 494 that are detailed in the previous section. Last but not least, the court argued that the Indian legal system has to adopt the Uniform Civil Code (hereafter UCC), which will prevent Indians from violating one another’s personal laws. The court also ordered the Indian government to produce an affidavit outlining the actions it has taken to secure a UCC for its citizens. This was done through the Secretary of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

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