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Lily Thomas vs. UOI & Ors.

Case  NameLily Thomas vs. UOI & Ors.
CourtSupreme court of India
BenchS Ahmed , R Sethi
Decided onPronounced on April 5th , 2000
Relevant StatuteSec 5 ,11 and 17 of Hindu Marriage Act
 CitationAIR 2000 SC 1650

Issues of the Case :

  1. Whether there should be Uniform Civil Code for all citizens of India ?
  2. Whether a Hindu husband can solemnize second marriage by converting to Islam ?
  3. Whether the husband would be liable for bigamy under section 494 of IPC ?

Facts of the Case :

  • It was by way of a review petition against the upholding of the Supreme Court of India in Sarla Mudgal case of the year 1995 .
  • Sushmita Ghosh filed a petition before the apex court stating that she was married to Mr. MC Ghosh as per Hindu rituals since the year 1984.
  • However , in the year 1992 , Mr. Ghosh asked Ms. Ghosh for divorce by mutual consent while stating that he had converted to Islam so that he could marry for the second time to Ms. Vinita Gupta who was a divorcee with two kids.
  • It is amply clear from the above stated facts that Mr. Ghosh only converted to Islam because he wanted to contract a second marriage and that he had actually no faith in his converted religion.

Contentions by Petitioner :

  • Petitioner’ s first issue was that since the act of marriage is a sacred institution then how can resorting to the act of religious conversion to Islam to commit the act of Bigamy  is violative of Article 21 of Indian Constitution( Right to life and Liberty).
  • It was pleaded that the male polygamy should be declared unconstitutional.
  • It was urged before the bench to apply the Uniform Civil Code to deal with vast socio-legal issues that could be applied to various religious personal laws.

Contentions by Respondent :

  • They contended that aggrieved party while exercising Freedom of Conscience & to profess any Religion have sought conversion to Islam and thus can practice Bigamy .
  • They argued that judgement in Sarla Mudgal case is violative of Article 21 of Indian Constitution as Muslim Shariat Law allows Bigamy and hence the aggrieved has not committed any offence.

Rule Laid :

  • The Court held that when a second marriage is contracted by a Hindu Husband after conversion , he didn’t do it because of his conscience and faith in other religion and such conversion is considered as fraudulent.
  • Therefore , it was laid down that such a marriage was void and invalid  due to violation of Article 21.

Judgement :

  • Justice S. Sagir Ahmad said if a party has a living spouse and he tries to have a second marriage then such marriage would be null and void under Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act , 1959 .
  • Such Marriage will also be null and void under Section 17 of Hindu Marriage Act and person committing Bigamy under section 17 shall be punished under provision of 494 and 495 of IPC , 1860.

Dissected by Suyash Tripathi

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