Assam CM Sarma announces plans for strong polygamy legislation, UCC

The New Indian visited remote areas of Assam to gauge public opinion on polygamy. Women from Nagaon and Morigaon districts raised concerns about triple talaq.

| Updated: 13 February, 2024 12:21 pm IST

GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma revealed on Monday his government’s intention to introduce a robust legislation banning polygamy and implementing a uniform civil code (UCC) across the state.

Speaking to reporters in Guwahati during the ongoing budget session of the state assembly, Sarma explained that while the government was initially focused on drafting a law against polygamy, recent developments, such as Uttarakhand passing legislation on UCC, prompted them to consider aligning the two issues.

“Assam was already addressing the issue of polygamy when the concept of UCC emerged. While UCC seeks to ban polygamy as a civil offense, our initial plan was to make it a criminal offense. To ensure uniformity across the country, we are contemplating aligning the two. I will discuss this with our central leadership and decide on the direction to take. These are long-term reforms, so we will not rush. My expert committee will reconvene,” stated Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.

He further mentioned the possibility of introducing the law in the ongoing assembly session if the report is ready. “If the report is prepared, we will proceed in this session; otherwise, it will be addressed in the next session,” he added.

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Meanwhile, The New Indian visited remote areas of Assam to gauge public opinion on polygamy. Women from Nagaon and Morigaon districts raised concerns about triple talaq. One victim of triple talaq shared her ordeal, stating, “He divorced by saying ‘talaq’ three times; He said ‘one talaq, two talaq, three talaq’ at night. He argues and beats me up regularly. It has been only 20-25 days since the divorce. My father is poor, yet he provided him with a good vehicle and other goods, but he still treated me this way.”

Mohammad Jalaluddin supported the idea of banning polygamy, stating, “I agree with the law. A man should marry only one woman and be content with her.”

Social worker Misimara Begum commended the Assam CM’s initiative, emphasising the need for a law to protect women from polygamy.

A panel chaired by retired judge Rumi Kumari Phukan, tasked with assessing the legislative competence of the State legislature to end polygamy, submitted its report to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The expert committee also includes Devajit Saikia, advocate general of Assam; Nalin Kohli, senior additional advocate general of Assam; and Nekibur Zaman, senior advocate of the Gauhati High Court.

Speaking to TNI, Nekibur Zaman highlighted the misuse of triple talaq, stating, “Polygamy is not confined to Muslims, but there is widespread misuse of triple talaq in rural areas.”

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