Tuesday, February 10, 2015

India Supreme Court Upholds State Work Rule Barring Polygamy

In Khan v. State of U.P., (India Sup. Ct., Feb.9, 2015), a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutionality of a rule of the government of the state of Uttar Pradesh barring employees from having more than one wife.  The court held that while Muslim personal law may permit up to four wives, the rule does not violate the provision of Art. 25 of India's Constitution that protects the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion. Quoting from an earlier decision, the Court said:
What is permitted or not prohibited by a religion does not become a religious practice or a positive tenet of a religion.... Assuming the practice of having more wives than one... is a practice followed by any community or group of people, the same can be regulated or prohibited by legislation in the interest of public order, morality and health or by any law providing for social welfare and reform which the impugned legislation clearly does.
The Economic Times reports on the decision.