STOP men converting for reMarriage

NEW DELHI: In a move aimed at closing the window for opportunistic conversion, the Law Commission has recommended insertion of a new section in the Hindu Marriage Act to prevent men from converting for remarriage unless the first one is dissolved as per law.

The move comes in the backdrop of many such cases including recent ones like Chander Mohan alias Chand Mohammed who converted to Islam for a second marriage.

In its latest report submitted to the law ministry on Wednesday, the Law Commission said, “Married men whose personal law does not allow bigamy have been resorting to the unhealthy and immoral practice of converting to Islam for the sake of contracting a second bigamous marriage.”

The commission, headed by Justice A R Lakshmanan, has recommended that a new section — 17A — be inserted in the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, to the effect that a married person, whose marriage is governed by the Act, cannot marry again even after changing his religion unless the first marriage is dissolved as per law. Taking up the subject suo motu, the law panel recommended that offences relating to bigamy under Sections 494-495 of the IPC be made cognizable by necessary amendment in the CrPC.

The commission has also recommended that proviso to Section 4 of Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, — saying that this section would not apply to a married woman who was originally a non-Muslim if she reverts to her original faith — be deleted. The law panel took up the subject to examine the existing legal position on bigamy in India along with judicial rulings.

The Supreme Court had outlawed the practice by its order in the case of Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India in 1995. The ruling was reaffirmed five years later in Lily Thomas vs Union of India in the year 2000.

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