Is bigamy really punishable under Hindu Law????

Bigamy is not permitted under the Hindu Law and is a punishable offence under section 494 IPC. But in case, a man remarries during the lifetime of his first wife, without annulling his marriage in the competent court, it is only and only his aggrieved first wife who can lodge a complaint against him and set section 494 IPC into motion. No one except the aggrieved wife, be it her children, her parents sibling or friends can take the call to put her offender husband behind the bars for performing bigamy. But in Indian society where women are not so empowered, mostly not even qualified enough to take care of her and her kid’s needs, specially the financial ones, is it practically possible for a woman to lodge a complaint against her husband, her children’s father? In very few of such cases we get an affirmative answer but unfortunately that applies to very limited matters. Most of the time, a woman has to keep silence on the matter of having another wife by her husband, in spite it being illegal and condemnable in society, for the better upbringing of her kids or not having any parental or family support…above all understanding the fact that she is not capable enough to take care of her or her kids financial needs and totally vulnerable being tagged with left over woman..While the offender husband has the privilege to remarry in spite it being illegal, unethical and punishable in law. He can easily escape because it is only his first wife whom he knows to be weak and incapable of stopping him or taking legal recourse against him. In fact in many cases offender husband threat the aggrieved wife to divorce her and throw her out of home with her kids and shamelessly brings his new showpiece to the house, if she(first wife) raises her objections to his unethical acts. Trouble is brewing for the victim wife with many judgements of courts, which gives provision for paying maintenance to the second wife and the settled position in law on the rights of children on the properties of their father (the husband of the victim woman) born from the second marriage. Don’t these provisions impliedly or figuratively validate bigamy? Doesn’t the confinement of the right to lodge complaint of bigamy only conferring upon the helpless, vulnerable victim wife, makes this provision almost ineffective to check bigamy? If the legislature is serious about restricting number of spouses by Hindu husband to only one and want to save not only the institution of marriage but also dignity and interest of the wife, it must make it open to everyone having information of bigamy being performed by anyone to which Hindu Law is applicable to set law into motion. All though, we have visible reasons to doubt the intention of the legislatures as many of our dignitaries, celebrities and law makers themselves have more than one wife, for which they were neither punished nor much condemned. It is interesting to know that in the proposed triple talaq bill, government has given this provision to open it for all to lodge a complaint against the person who will divorce his wife reciting talaq talaq talaq..and not only the wife. It’s a good initiative. Why the same cannot be done under Hindu law? A wrong is a wrong. Something which is punishable under any law in force, cannot be termed as personal matter between individuals or husband and wife hence whosoever has information of committing of such offence must inform the concerned machinery to fix it just like any other wrong or crime. Why under Hindu law, bigamy in spite being a threat to the institution of marriage and to the social structure and an evil which takes away rights of a woman to lead a secured, happy and dignified life and a punishable offence too, the stick to hit the offender is given to only a helpless woman whose hands are already burdened with the concern of her kids, her own present and future, their well being, safety and security, social and family pressures… and not to everyone and anyone who know that it has been committed by someone? It is time for the law makers to amend the law related to the offence of bigamy and make the locus open to all to set the concerned section into motion so that people will fear of committing it in spite being confident of repressing the voice of their own wives.

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