Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday held that enforcement of Section 494 of IPC (marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife) is applicable to all offenders irrespective of their religion but subject to personal laws.
A division bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice AM Shaffique, said the offence does not discriminate between an offender belonging to Hindu, Muslim, Christian male or female in registering a case for offence of bigomy, if marriage is valid and legal.
The bench made the observation while dismissing a petition by one Venugopal K of Thrissur, seeking a directive to register a case under Sec 494 against all citizens who committed the offence of bigamy irrespective of personal law.
Under Muslim personal law, a person can have a number of wives who will not be prosecuted for bigamy, but a Hindu who takes a second wife can be prosecuted for bigamy is discriminatory, the petitioner contended.
The Court observed that a Muslim man can marry four women under Muslim personal law and if he marries a fifth wife he can very well be prosecuted under Sec 494 of IPC.
Likewise, a Muslim female contracting marriage for a second time can also be prosecuted, it said.
The petitioner sought a declaration that the offence under the section would be for all citizens who conduct bigamy, irrespective of their personal law, but the court held there is no such discrimination in this regard.