Second marriage during the subsistence of the first marriage is illegal in India and termed as Bigamy. The relationship arising from the same does not have any validity and it does not have any effect on the first marriage. It is an offence even if it is performed with the consent of the first spouse.
However, following are the conditions under which second marriage is not an offence:
- If the husband or wife of the first marriage is dead;
- If the first marriage has been dissolved by any decree or order of the court;
- If the first marriage has been declared null and void by any court of law;
- If the husband or wife of the first marriage absent themselves for seven years and the same has been communicated to the husband or wife of the second marriage.
Section 494 of Indian Penal Code exempts from punishment second marriage under any of the above mentioned conditions.
Bigamy is a non-cognizable offence, bailable and compoundable with the permission of the court.
It is punishable with imprisonment upto seven years of imprisonment or fine or both.
The offence of committing bigamy by concealing the facts of first marriage is punishable with imprisonment for ten years or fine or both and this offence committed under section 495 is not compoundable.
In SARLA MUDGAL VS. UNION OF INDIA (1995 AIR 1531 SC), the Supreme Court held that,
- If a man after renouncing Hindu Religion has adopted Muslim Religion and he without taking Divorce from his wife has married again, then this marriage is not legal.
- He will be punished for committing bigamy under section 494 IPC.
By Suraj Anand
Law Student, IME Law College, Ghaziabad
Legal Intern, Lex Excel – Advocates & Solicitors