Guwahati, September 2 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said that there is a strong public support in banning the polygamy in the state.
The state government earlier formed a committee to study the feasibility of introducing a law to ban polygamy in Assam. Following the submission of a report by the concerned committee, public opinion was sought by the government ahead of bringing a legislature in the state assembly.
Taking to Twitter, Sarma said, “We have received a total of 149 suggestions in response to our public notice. Out of these, 146 suggestions are in favor of the bill, indicating strong public support. However, 3 organisations have expressed their opposition to the bill.”
“We will now proceed to the next stage of the process, which is to complete the final drafting of the bill in next 45 days,” he added.
In its report, the expert committee said that the Indian Constitution gives the Union and the States the power to create legislation on specific issues.
Marriage is on the concurrent list, therefore both the federal government and the states can establish laws governing it. The Doctrine of Repugnancy (Article 254) states that if a state law conflicts with central law, the central law will take precedence unless the state law has the prior approval of the President of India, according to the committee's findings.
Additionally, it was said in the report that Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution guarantee religious freedom and freedom of conscience. These rights are not unalienable; rather, they are constrained by laws governing social welfare and reform as well as public morality, health, and order.
“With respect to Islam, the courts have held that having more than one wife is not an essential part of the religion. 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,” said the committee in the report.
The committee recommended that the Assam government be given the legal authority to pass a state legislature that outlaws polygamy.