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Bigamy as an offence in India


Bigamy was NO bar according to Hindu customary marriage law but after the codification of the Hindu customary laws and enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act,1956, The second marriage was declared void during the subsistence of the first marriage.

What is Bigamy?

Bigamy is an offence against Hindu Marriage Act,1956 and Indian Penal Code,1860.
It comes under Section 5(1) of The Hindu Marriage Act. It says "Spouse living at the time of marriage."
Section 11 of the HMA declares the second marriage to be null and void

Non application of Bigamy
  • The first husband or wife is dead.
  • The first marriage has been declared void by the court.
  • The first marriage has been dissolved by divorce.
  • Presumed death of the first spouse i.e he/she has not been heard or has been absent for a continuous period of 7 years.
Punishment of Bigamy under The Hindu Marriage Act
Bigamy is punishable under section 494 of IPC, In the case of the first marriage. Punishment is imprisonment upto 7 years or fine or both.
In the case of second marriage, It is punishable under section 495 of IPC and the punishment is imprisonment upto 10 years or fine or both.

What if the person hides the first marriage and contracts another one?hhh

A complaint can be filed under section 415 of IPC.

Religious conversion for the second marriage

It is NOT ALLOWED. In Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India (1995 AIR 1531 SC), the Supreme Court held that a man who has adopted Islam and renounced Hindu religion, marries again without taking divorce from the first wife, then such marriage is not legal. The person shall be punished for committing bigamy under section 494 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Proof needed or not?

No proof is required for lodging complaints under Bigamy law.
The Supreme Court held that while lodging a complaint, it is not necessary for the aggrieved party that the marriage ceremonies were performed.

Is the registration of the marriage Compulsory?

As per the orders of the Supreme Court, In order to avoid child marriages and second marriages, it is compulsory to register the marriage in the court.

Status of the live-in relationships

The law of Bigamy is not applicable to live-in relationships because these relationships are not legally contracted marriages.

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