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aatma   08 October 2008

Bigamy - Legal in India!!!???,prtpage-1.cms

HYDERABAD/CHENNAI/BANGALORE: That engineer K Suryanarayana had two wives became public only after his murder in Afghanistan, but the revelation isn't surprising in Andhra Pradesh, indeed in most of south India.

In Tamil Nadu, bigamy is pretty much institutionalised and even has a name - Chinna veedu, which translates as 'small house' or second home. It is an age-old tradition surviving to this day despite its illegality. When DMK was in power in the state, security agencies had a tough time providing security to two houses for many ministers, as each of them had two wives.

Whether it was the late M G Ramachandran, or M Karunanidhi, they have all had it, and flaunted it. Karunanidhi has married at least three women, the first of whom is dead. 

The DMK chief now divides his time in the houses of both wives - spending mornings at the Gopalapuram residence with Dayaluammal while moving to the house of his other wife, Rajathiammal, at CIT Nagar in Chennai in the afternoons.

Another towering Tamil actor, Gemini Ganesan, married five times while his first wife was alive. The Chinna veedu concept is fairly common in Krishnagiri and Salem districts of TN, where males believe in more the merrier.

Actor-director K Bhagyaraj even made a Tamil movie called Chinna Veedu.

At least one top Union minister from Tamil Nadu is known to have two wives and so does a senior DMK official, who married his daughter's classmate. An academic said, "The social sanction for two wives can be traced to religion and mythology. Lord Muruga, for instance, had two wives." 

In Andhra, bigamy doesn't have the traditional sanction it enjoys in TN, but the practice is fairly widespread among the powerful and even a status symbol. 


 8 Replies

SHEKHAR MISHRA (public servant)     08 October 2008

Thanks  for   providing   interesting   information.

Murali Krishna (Govt..Employee)     08 October 2008

 Bigamy, plural marriage in Hindu religion does not have the sanction of the Statute. Hence the rights of the second wife are not equal to that of the first wife. However, HA &M Act gives protection to the children of the second wife and they are entitled for all equal rights with the other children.

Kiran Kumar (Lawyer)     08 October 2008

Mr. Murli is quite right in his reply.

even though the financial interests of illegitimate children are protected but in another way their status can be termed to be that of Bastard and the second wife is nothing but a Concubine.

Murali Krishna (Govt..Employee)     09 October 2008

 I would like to slightly differ with Kiran Kumar. 

The children of second wife cannot be called b*st*rds nr the second wife called concubine.

A woman is called wife only when there is a marriage - Whether it is a legally valid or void. The important question is whether there is marriage or not. If there is a marriage, albeit it is a void one, the woman is not called concubine and the children are not called b*st*rds.

If there is no marriage at all, then the woman can be called as concubine, and the children are called b*st*rds and they do not have any rights whatsoever as if the children of the person.   

I hope I have made my self clear on the issue.


Rajan Salvi (Lawyer)     11 October 2008

Man is an animal.[ According to some a social animal]  [ to quote Karl Marx- " the blood of beast is always in man"] Monogamy is unatural and thrust upon him by the society or its laws. [ probably it is to ascertain paternity] This is the result of the English law thrust upon Indians. English law lay much stress on chastity [ out of the concept that women is a property - over which only the wedded has a right] [ further when the British were crouching behind bushes , India already had a well developed civilisation]   . I personally do not think any thing wrong in this that a person is willing to work more harder and provide for two households in one life. STATE DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO STATE EXACTLY BY WHICH PERSON ,  MY , OR FOR THE MATTER ANY BODY ELSES NEEDS ARE SATISFIED. In short state cannot dictate who or what will excite me.  Remember Bentham . " Greatest good of the greatest number."?

Rajesh Kumar (Advocate)     12 October 2008

Rajan is very right. State has no right to interfere in any personal relationship of the citizens. Although i am not for or against bigamy, i feel that marriage is something personal and must be left to the individual choice of the citizens. State interference only worsen the things.


Just because something is socially acceptable doesnt make it right. Even sati was socially acceptable and dowry. but those were a menace to the society. Bigamy by and large creates complications in the lives of the partners as well as the children. Bigamy is wrong and punishable under law. We are very good at taking cover of customs and traditions to do whatever we have been doing.

Arup Kumar Gupta, Korba, Chattishgarh ((m)9893058429)     07 January 2010

Thanks to Mr. Attma, Mr Rajan and Mr. Rajesh for giving valuable information and opinion.

The Indian society was a polygamist society, where men had the right to marry more than one woman. Hindu marriage act changes the situation.

Sec 5 & sec 18 of HMA and sec 494 of IPC makes the bigamy Offence but concerned sec of crpc gave the right to complain/lucas standi to the first wife and nobody eles. Moreover HMA restricts some Hindu religious functions related to a marriage, not bigamy.

The present legal situation is quite complecated. a deep study shows that  the  bigamy  under the hindu marriage act though normally restricted but open for all..

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