NEW DELHI: Although their personal law permits men to have four wives, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a Muslim’s fundamental right to profess Islam did not include practicing polygamy.
“What was protected under Article 25 (right to practice and propagate any religion) was the religious faith and not a practice which may run counter to public order, health or morality. Polygamy was not integral part of religion and monogamy was a reform within the power of the State under Article 25,” said a bench of Justices T S Thakur and A K Goel.
The bench said that polygamy was not integral to religion and the practice of polygamy did not acquire sanction of religion simply because it was permitted.
It upheld the UP government’s decision to sack one of its employees on the ground of misconduct for opting for a second marriage during existence of the first marriage without its prior permission.
Referring to its earlier verdict, the bench said that Article 25 protects religious faith, not a practice. It noted that the court had upheld the views of the Bombay, Gujarat and Allahabad high courts in this regard.
The bench upheld conduct rules framed by UP Government Servant Conduct Rules, saying that it did not violate Article 25 of the Constitution.
In this case Khursheed Ahmad Khan, employed as irrigation supervisor, had married Anjum Begum during existence of first marriage with Sabina Begum. Sister of his first wife had filed a complaint before National Human Rights Commission which ordered a police probe in the case.
The police submitted its report before the commission saying that Khan had married a second time during the existence of the first marriage. On this basis, the state government had initiated proceedings and later removed him from service for failure to take prior permission for second marriage as was required under rule 29 of the conduct rules.
Khan had then approached the Allahabad high court and challenged his removal from service. The HC had dismissed his plea.