A judge of the High Court of Gujarat issued an order Thursday blasting Muslim men who deliberately misinterpret the Quran’s polygamy provision for "selfish" reasons, dnaindia.com reported. Jafar Abbas Merchant had petitioned the Indian court to dismiss a lawsuit his wife launched against him for marrying another woman.
Justice J.B. Pardiwala said the Quran mentions a polygamy provision just once, and as a conditional one that had been used in the past to offer protection to the widows and children of men who had been killed. Use of the provision for reasons of self-interest or sexual desire is “heinously patriarchal” and contributes to discrimination against women, he said.
In his order, Pardiwala also called upon the Indian government to adopt a uniform civil code; the country currently maintains separate personal laws for each religion governing marriage.
“When the Quran allowed polygamy, it was for a fair reason. When men use that provision today, they do it for a selfish reason,” he said. “Muslim personal law does not permit a Muslim to treat one wife cruelly, drive her out of the matrimonial home and then get married for the second time.”
Pardiwala upheld Merchant’s petition, saying he was “left with no other option,” as his rights are protected under Muslim personal law rather than the Indian Penal Code, which outlaws second marriages during the lifetimes of current spouses.
“There is no law in this country which takes care of this situation. There is no uniform civil code in this country,” he said. “On the basis of modern, progressive thinking, India must shun this practice and establish uniform civil code."
It’s not the first time an Indian judge has railed against Muslim personal law for subjecting women to discrimination. In October, India’s Supreme Court said it would examine Muslim divorce laws and consider whether women’s constitutional rights are violated by the practices of polygamy and arbitrary divorce.