POLYGAMY IN INDIA (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Social Issue)

News-CRUX-10     4th September 2023        

Context: The Assam government plans to ban polygamy in the state and has received strong public support for the proposal.

  • The state government had earlier constituted an expert committee to study the legislative competence of the assembly to enact a law banning polygamy in the state.

About Polygamy

  • Polygamy: A marriage practice in which an individual is legally married to multiple spouses simultaneously. Types: Polygyny and polyandry.
  • The Indian Constitution grants the Union and the states the authority to enact legislation on certain subjects. 

o'Marriage' falls under the Concurrent List, enabling both the Centre and the states to pass laws on it. 

  • The Doctrine of Repugnancy (Article 254) stipulates that if a state legislation contradicts a central legislation, the state law will be overridden unless it received the prior assent of the president of India.
  • Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution provide freedom of conscience and the right to practice religion.

oHowever, these rights are not absolute and are subject to public order, morality, health and legislative provisions for social welfare and reform.

Poygamy in India

  • According to the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-20) data, the occurrence of polygamous marriages was as follows:

o2.1% among Christians, 1.9% among Muslims, 1.3% among Hindus, and 1.6% among other religious groups.

  • The data revealed that the Northeastern states, which have substantial tribal populations, exhibited the highest prevalence of polygynous marriages.
  • A compilation of 40 districts with the highest rates of polygyny predominantly featured districts characterized by significant tribal populations.
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