Report No. 227
Effect of Change of Religion
Under the traditional Muslim law if a married Muslim woman converts to another religion her marriage would be automatically dissolved. This rule is, however, not applicable in India. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 provides that apostasy of a Muslim wife shall not dissolve her marriage (Section 4). So, although the 1939 Act does not specifically say so, if a married Muslim woman renounces Islam and, believing that her first marriage has been ipso facto dissolved marries again, her second marriage will attract application of Section 494-495 of the Indian Penal Code.
There is an exception to this rule under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act 1939 - if a married convert Muslim woman by renouncing Islam reverts to her original religion the provision of Section 4 will not apply. In other words, in this case her re-conversion will automatically dissolve her marriage with her Muslim husband. In such a case, therefore, anti-bigamy provisions of the Indian Penal Code will not apply. The exceptional provision clearly seems to be discriminatory.