Bigamy is the act of marrying someone while still being legally married to another person. It is considered a criminal offense in most countries, and can result in fines, imprisonment, or both. In the United States, bigamy is a felony in some states and a misdemeanor in others. Some states also recognize common law marriages, which can make bigamy even more complicated.
Bigamy in India
In India, bigamy is a criminal offense and is punishable under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code. The punishment for bigamy is imprisonment for a term which may extend up to seven years, and fine. However, Indian laws also recognize certain exceptions to bigamy, such as if the first spouse is declared legally dead or if the previous marriage was dissolved by a court of law. Additionally, certain communities in India, such as Muslims, are allowed to have multiple wives due to their personal laws.
Recent laws in Bigamy in INDIA
In 2017, the Indian government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, which criminalized the practice of instant triple talaq (a Muslim divorce practice where a man can divorce his wife by saying “talaq” three times in quick succession). The law also includes provisions for the punishment of bigamy among Muslim men. Under the law, bigamy is a non-bailable offense and the offender can be punished with imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine.
It is worth mentioning that even though the laws are in place, the enforcement of bigamy laws and the conviction rate is quite low in India.
Recent judgements in Bigamy
In recent years, there have been several notable judgements regarding bigamy in India.
In 2019, the Indian Supreme court in the case of Joseph Shine v. Union of India, held that bigamy is not just a criminal offence, but also a civil wrong, and a person can be held liable for bigamy in a civil suit for restitution of conjugal rights as well.
In 2020, the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutionality of the 2017 Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, which criminalizes the practice of instant triple talaq and also includes provisions for the punishment of bigamy among Muslim men.
In another case in 2020, the Karnataka High Court held that even if the second marriage is performed as per the personal laws, it is still considered as bigamy under the Indian Penal Code, if the first marriage is subsisting.
It is worth noting that bigamy cases are complicated and judgments may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the interpretation of the laws by the courts