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Report No. 18

3. Difficulty caused by differences in personal laws.-

As it is the personal law of the parties that governs them in matters of marriage and divorce, the question arises whether, in view of the difference in that law as it obtains among the several communities in India, it would be feasible to enact one law applicable generally to conversions from one religion to another. The difficulty mainly arises by reason of the fact that, while some systems of law enjoin monogamy, others sanction polygamy. According to the law governing Christians, Jews and Parsis, marriage is "a union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others".

The Hindu law as it stood, sanctioned polygamy, but now, as a result of legislation, marriage among the Hindus has also become monogamous. The Muslim law permits the husband to marry four wives, and therefore polygamy is possible only among Muslims. Where the conversion is from one monogamous religion to another, the question presents no difficulty. The law is well-settled, that conversion does not ipso facto put an end to the marriage, and, therefore, unless and until it is dissolved as provided under the law, the convert cannot enter into a fresh marriage1. The law has, therefore, merely to provide for dissolution of the marriage, prescribe the conditions therefor and prohibit re-marriage until that is decreed.

1. See for example, sections 4 and 52(2), Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936.

Converts Marriage Dissolution Act, 1866 Back

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