The Gujarat High Court has taken the initiative of raising concern over the corrupt, misinterpreted, and abusive application of polygamy in the country. The concern was raised by Justice JB Pardiwala while delivering his order related to section 494 of IPC, which deals with punishment for having more than one wife. Justice Pardiwala could be the engine of change if he spreads his righteous opinion on the matter to his brethren, and they collectively recommend the Government to go for Uniform Civil Code!
Jafar Abbas, the petitioner in the case Justice Pardiwala was hearing, pranced his way to the High Court, secure in the knowledge that he has the law on his side. He was there to ask the Justice system to cancel the FIR his wife had filed against him. She claimed that Jafar got married to another woman without her consent. In the FIR, she invoked Section 494 of IPC (marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife) against Jafar.
In his plea, Jafar claimed that the Muslim Personal Law allows Muslim men to marry four times, and hence the FIR against him does not stand legal scrutiny. Jafar is right. But what Jafar, and men like him, should be reminded of is the distorted manner in which Muslims are exploiting what Holy Quran said.
The High Court judge said in his order: “When the Quran allowed polygamy, it was for a fair reason. When men use that provision today, they do it for a selfish reason. Polygamy finds mention in the Quran only once, and it is about conditional polygamy.”
“Muslim Personal Law does not permit a Muslim to treat one wife cruelly, drive her out of the matrimonial home and then get married for the second time. However, there is no law in this country which takes care of this situation. There is no uniform civil code in this country,” well said, Justice Pardiwala.
The learned judge further added in his order: “Polygamy and the unilateral talaq without the wife’s consent offends Article 14 (equality before law for all) and Article 15 (the state’s nondiscrimination on grounds of caste, religion, sex, etc). If the state tolerates this law, it becomes an accomplice in the discrimination of the female, which is illegal under its own laws.” Good point, Judge! And he wasn’t done.
“It is abundantly clear that notwithstanding there is no codification by the legislation of marriages amongst the Muslims, polygamy is not encouraged and is an exception and not a rule. It is not the fundamental right of a Muslim to have four wives.”
But it must be made a law first for the Justice to rule in the wife’s favour, and put Jafar behind bars. So he ruled in his favour… a travesty of justice no one can do anything about till change is brought.