New Delhi: A government employee cannot take refuge under Article 25 of the Constitution dealing with right to profess religion, to challenge rule barring polygamy, the Supreme Court held on Monday.
The apex court said the Conduct Rules of the Uttar Pradesh government for its employees, which mandates prior permission for contracting second marriage during the existence of the first marriage, is not violative of Article 25 of the Constitution.
The court was dealing with an appeal filed by a Muslim employee in UP's Irrigation Department challenging a disciplinary authority order removing him from service for proven misconduct of another marriage during the existence of the first marriage, which was upheld by Allahabad High Court.
Holding that there was no need to interfere with the High Court's finding on "proven misconduct", a bench comprising justices T S Thakur and Adarsh Kumar Goel said his contention that such rule was violative of Article 25 was answered by the apex court in Javed vs State of Haryana matter.
In this case, it was held that what was protected under Article 25 was 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. This Court upheld the views of the Bombay, Gujarat and Allahabad High Courts to this effect.
"This Court also upheld the view of the Allahabad High court upholding such a conduct rule. It was observed that a practice did not acquire sanction of religion simply because it was permitted. Such a practice could be regulated by law without violating Article 25," the bench said.
In its judgement, the bench said, "as regards the charge of misconduct in question, it is patent that there is no material on record to show that the appellant divorced his first wife before the second marriage or he informed the Government about contracting the second marriage.
"In absence thereof, the second marriage is a misconduct under the Conduct Rules," the bench said.