KATHMANDU: With the third marriage of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s son Prakash, people have seriously started questioning the efficiency of law enforcement agencies to stop polygamy in Nepal.
It is the undoubted right of every person to marry the person of his or her liking, but the existing law does not allow already married persons to get married again in addition to their previous spouse. When Prakash Dahal tied the knot with student leader Bina Magar, the competence of the Marriage Chapter of the Country’s Code (Muluki Ain) came under question.
Polygamy is completely illegal and the current law has barred it absolutely. Nepal, like other countries, abolished polygamy years ago. On October 13, last year, Bhutanese King Namgyel Wangchuck tied the knot with Jetsun Pema, also ending the culture of polygamy. Despite the custom to allow the king to marry four sisters at the same wedding ceremony, Namgyel discontinued the tradition by marrying Pema alone.
In most countries, marriage is a personal choice. The law permits someone to marry or divorce, and no one is stopped from it. But one cannot violate the law and go for second marriage in the presence of an earlier spouse. The Muluki Ain 1963 itself had abolished the
concept of polygamy but since it did not have strict penal provisions, it could not stop the practice. The feminist movement forced Nepal to a
bolish the practice and ultimately, on November 3, 2006, parliament introduced strict punishment for polygamists in the amendment to Section 9 of the Marriage Chapter of Muluki Ain.
But even after such an amendment, people have still been found involved in such an offence. Former Minister Rabindra Shrestha and
now Prakash Dahal have indulged in such an offence, which forces people to question the efficiency of the existing laws. In regard to the Maoists, it is not only a matter of breaching the law. They themselves had punished thousands of people who were accused of polygamy. Now it is time to wait and see how effective the law is and what consequences there will be for such offenders.
“Since it is the law of the country, everybody is compelled to respect it,” Women’s Rights Lawyer Meera Dhungana told THT Perspectives. “The Marriage Chapter has strictly abolished polygamy, so it must be implemented and powerful people as well as commoners should be treated equally,” she added.