Assam government has invited public comments on proposed law banning polygamy

Assam government has invited public comments on proposed law banning polygamy. The suggestion can be sent by August 30.

The Government 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 theLaw Commission recommending that the State Legislature is competent to enact a law to ban polygamy.

The Executive Summary of the Expert Committee’s report stated 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 a state legislation contradicts a central legislation, the state law will be overridden unless it received the prior assent of the President of india.

The report added that 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.

The report stated 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 favoring 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”

The home and political department in a public notice stated, “ 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 or through post.”

Sarma earlier said if the expert committee gives a report, legislation will be introduced in the next session of the Assembly or else it will be introduced in the January session.

Sarma said that Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will be brought by Parliament. The Law Commission is looking into it. “We are in support of UCC, in Assam, we want to ban polygamy as well. Pending the UCC we want to take out one segment of UCC banning polygamy. However, if UCC comes, we don’t have to bring separate legislation for this will be merged in the UCC. If report takes time, then next winter session in January we will bring the legislation.”

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