Lily Thomas V Union of India

Citation: 6 SCC 224

Bench: S Ahmed, R Sethi

Facts :

  • Sushmita Ghosh married Shri G. C. Ghosh in accordance with the Hindu rites on 10th May in 1984. However, on 1st April 1992, G.C Ghosh asked Sushmita Ghosh to agree to a divorce by mutual consent.
  • He informed her that he had converted to Islam in order to marry Ms. Vanita Gupta and that if she did not agree to the divorce she would have to put up with being the second wife.
  • Petitioner then asserted her rights guaranteed under Article 15(1) of the Indian Constitution and claimed that she had been discriminated against by Muslim Personal Law.
  • Jamiat Ulema Hind filed for a review petition claiming that the law violated Articles 21, 22 & 25 of the Indian Constitution.
Issues
  1. Whether there is a violation of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution due to the law laid down in the Sarla Mugdal judgement?
  2. Whether the prosecution of a person for charges of bigamy under section 494 of the Indian Penal Code violates Article 21 of the Indian constitution?
Judgement
  • There is no violation of Article 25 as apart from guaranteeing a right to freedom of religion, it also does not allow such freedom to encroach upon the religious right and personal freedom of other persons.
  • Article 21 guarantees that no person shall be deprived of personal law and liberty except according to the procedure established by law. It has been factually conceded that none of the petitioners have been deprived of this right. The court held it would be too premature at this stage to foresee that the petitioners would be deprived of this right without following procedure. This procedure mentioned in Article 21 implies the law laid down by the Legislature. The Sarla Mugdal judgement has neither changed the procedure nor created any law for the people being prosecuted under section of 494 IPC. The judgement merely interpreted an already existing law.

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