On proposed law to ban polygamy Assam govt seeks public advice

On proposed law to ban polygamy Assam govt seeks public advice

Guwahati: Toeing the line of the Central government’s policy of seeking suggestions and opinions on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), the Assam government has sought suggestions and opinions from all stakeholders on the proposed law to ban polygamy in the state.

The Goverment of Assam constituted an Expert Committee to study the legislative competence of the Assembly to enact a law banning polygamy in the state.

The Expert Committee submitted its report to the Chief Minister recommending that the State Legislature is competent to enact a law to ban polygamy.

The Indian Constitution grants the Union and the States the authority to enact legislation on certain subjects. “Marriage” falls under the Concurrent List. enabling both the Centre and the States to pass laws on it.

The Doctrine of Repugnancy (Article 254) stipulates that if state legislation contradicts central legislation, the state law will be overridden unless it received the prior assent of the President of India.

Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution provide freedom of conscience and the right to practice religion. However, these rights are not absolute and are subject to public order, morality. health, and legislative provisions for social welfare and reform. The courts have clarified that religious practices must be essential and integral to the religion to receive protection.

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.

Considering these principles, the State of Assam would have the legislative competence to enact a State legislature to end Polygamy”.

Members of the public are now invited to share their suggestions on the proposed law to ban polygamy in the State of Assam.

The suggestions can be sent by 30.08.2023 through email to lawonpolygamy@assam.gov.in or submitted to Principal Secretary to the Government of Assam, Home & Political Department, Assam Secretarial, Dispur-781006 either through post or through email to home.assam@gov.in.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on August 6 revealed that the Expert Committee, tasked with assessing the legislative competence of the State Legislature to end polygamy, has submitted its report. The move aims to create a positive ecosystem for women’s empowerment, transcending barriers of caste, creed, or religion.

The Expert Committee, spearheaded by Justice (Retd.) Smt. Rumi Kumari Phukan as Chairperson, comprises esteemed members such as Shri Devajit Saikia, Advocate General of Assam, Shri Nalin Kohli, Senior Additional Advocate General of Assam, and Shri Nekibur Zaman, Senior Advocate of Gauhati High Court.

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