Sarla Mudgal and Ors. Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors.
– By Yazhini, 4th year BBA.LLb, School of Law, Sastra.
Date of judgment: 10 May 1995
Equivalent citations: AIR 1995 SC 1531, 1995 SSC (3) 635
Bench (2): Kuldip Singh (CJI), R.M. Sahai
- The petitioners filed a writ in the court stating that their husbands are converting to Islam for the solitary purpose of marrying another woman.
2. They alleged that this was a felony and they have to be punished under the section of 494 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code provides for a punishment extending to seven years of imprisonment, in the event of remarriage during the lifetime of a spouse without dissolving the first marriage.
3. The Uniform Civil Code under Article 44 was emphasised on by the court as a solution to these conflicts in personal laws.
- Whether the conversion into Islam by a Hindu husband who married under the Hindu Law is possible?
2. Whether the second marriage automatically dissolves the first marriage, with relation the rights of the wife?
3. Whether those Hindu husbands can be punished under section 494 of the IPC?
The court held that,
- In order to marry another woman, the first marriage has to be dissolved under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Conversion to Islam for the sole person of marrying another woman is not valid, and if allowed would be an open opportunity to commit the offence.
2. However, the second marriage does not automatically dissolve the first marriage with respect to the rights of the wife.
3. The second marriage under the law of Islam would be considered invalid under Hindu Law, the law under which the first marriage was held, as it propounds monogamy.
4. With respect to Section 494 of the Code, the court said it has four ingredients
- A second marriage
- During the spouse life
- without dissolving the first marriage
5. These conditions being fulfilled, the husbands are punishable under section 494 of the Indian Penal Code.
6. Lastly, the court emphasised on the need for a Uniform Civil Code by the legislature.