Author: Pihu Basotra, a student at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies


The case involves Smt. Sushmita Ghosh challenging her husband’s conversion to Islam with the alleged motive of entering into a second marriage. The Supreme Court examines the constitutional implications, focusing on the husband’s intention behind the conversion. The court considers whether a conversion, undertaken solely to evade a prior Hindu marriage, renders the subsequent marriage void. The judgment delves into the criminal aspects, discussing the applicability of bigamy laws and the potential need for a Uniform Civil Code. This landmark decision addresses the abuse of religious conversion and establishes legal principles to safeguard the sanctity of marriages under personal laws in India.


The legal case involving Smt. Sushmita Ghosh and Shri G.C. Ghosh, heard before the Supreme Court, revolves around the conversion to Islam by the husband to facilitate a second marriage. Smt. Sushmita Ghosh alleges that her husband’s conversion is a mere pretense to avoid the existing Hindu marriage and enter into a second one. The case raises significant constitutional and criminal law issues concerning the validity of such conversions, bigamy, and the potential need for a Uniform Civil Code.

Factual Background

1. Smt. Sushmita Ghosh, the wife of Shri G.C. Ghosh (Mohd. Karim Ghazi), filed a Writ Petition in the Supreme Court, asserting that their marriage was conducted under Hindu rites on May 10, 1984, and they had been residing happily in Delhi since.

2. On April 1, 1992, Shri G.C. Ghosh informed Smt. Sushmita Ghosh about his conversion to Islam, urging her to agree to a mutual divorce. He intended to remarry Miss Vanita Gupta in July 1992, a divorcee with two children.

3. Smt. Sushmita Ghosh contends that her husband’s conversion to Islam is solely for remarriage purposes and lacks genuine faith. He does not adhere to Muslim rites, nor has he officially changed his name or religion.

4. The petitioner asserts her fundamental rights under Article 15(1), aiming to avoid discrimination based on religion and sex. It implies that her husband’s conversion to Islam is a ploy to have a second wife, forbidden in Hindu Law.

5. Due to these actions, Smt. Sushmita Ghosh, at 34, faces significant mental trauma and unemployment. The petitioner highlights a common trend among Hindu males who, unable to secure a divorce, convert to Islam for a second marriage and later reconvert to retain property rights.


1. Whether a non-Muslim’s conversion to Islam, with no genuine change in belief but to avoid an existing marriage or enter a second one, renders the subsequent marriage void.

2. Whether the respondent is liable for bigamy under Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

3. Whether the adoption of a Uniform Civil Code is desirable.

Observation Of the Hon’ble Supreme Court:

The appellant strongly argued that the respondent’s conversion to Islam was a mere ploy to facilitate a second marriage. The court, echoing the appellant’s concerns, emphasized that while freedom of religion is a fundamental right, it cannot be exploited to manipulate or evade other legal obligations, such as existing marriages. The respondent’s failure to observe Muslim rites and neglect to change official documents indicated a superficial conversion with the primary motive of terminating the first marriage. The court invoked provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act and the Indian Penal Code, emphasizing the legal repercussions of contracting bigamous marriages during the subsistence of a prior marriage.


The bench, comprising R.P. Sethi and S.S. Ahmad, delivered a decisive judgment. It held that if a Hindu spouse converts to Islam solely for the purpose of a second marriage, without a genuine intent to embrace the religion, the subsequent marriage is deemed void. Importantly, the conversion does not dissolve the first marriage, leading to potential charges of bigamy under Section 17 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Sections 494 and 495 of the IPC further solidify the legal consequences of such actions. The court reiterated that, in India, marriage is governed by personal laws, making a comprehensive uniform civil code impractical. However, it affirmed that acts violating personal laws are subject to suitable penal measures as directed by the court or prescribed by law.


This landmark judgment stands as a bulwark against the misuse of religious conversion for the purpose of contracting bigamous marriages. It underscores the court’s commitment to upholding the sanctity of marriages under Hindu law, where marriage is regarded as sacred. The decision sends a strong message against the manipulation of religious conversion and reinforces the legal consequences for those attempting to exploit such conversions for ulterior motives, particularly in the context of second marriages.


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