The Assam government on Monday sought public opinion on the proposed bill to end the practice of polygamy in the state. The BJP government issued a public notice for seeking suggestions, two weeks after Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s announcement of a new law to end polygamy, the practice of marrying multiple women.
“Members of the public are requested to send their suggestions on the proposed law to ban polygamy in Assam,” Chief Minister Sarma tweeted.
The public can send their suggestions before August 30 via email to email@example.com or directly submit them to the Principal Secretary of the Home and Political Department, a public notice issued by the government said.
Last week, CM Sarma announced that a bill on the subject will be introduced by the BJP government within this financial year. His announcement came after an expert committee, constituted by the state government, recommended that the state legislature is competent to enact a law to ban polygamy.
According to the expert committee’s report, “marriage” falls under the Concurrent List, for which both the Centre and the states can pass laws.
The committee, in its report, also stated that the act to end polygamy does not violate Article 25 of the Constitution, which ensures religious freedom.
“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 committee stated in its report.
The report also noted that religious practices “must be essential and integral to the religion” to receive protection.
“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,” the report noted.
Regarding the Islamic practice, which allows four spouses, the expert committee stated that courts have held that having more than one wife is “not an essential part of the religion”.
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