PWD employee’s application for second marriage rejected citing code of conduct

The Kochi-based PWD officer had applied for second marriage as per Muslim Personal Law, but was told that more than one marriage violates the code of conduct of a government employee.

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A Public Works Department (PWD) officer from Kochi, Kerala, had filed an application for a second marriage as per Muslim Personal Law in March. However, since his first wife was alive and he had not divorced her, PWD did not allow him to marry again.

Even though Muslim Personal Law allows a man to marry more than once, PWD claimed that as per the code of conduct for the government employees which was brought into effect in 1960, no government employee can marry a second time while the first wife is alive, unless and until he seeks special permission to do so from the government. Also, PWD asserted that such rules and regulations were put in place so that government employees observed a certain level of discipline not just at work, but also at home. As per the laws implemented by the legislature, government employees are expected to exhibit high levels of morality and trust at all times in their personal as well as professional lives.

Public Works Department (PWD) claimed that more than one marriage at a time goes against the moral code of conduct of a government employee.

A couple of years back a Muslim employee in UP’s Irrigation Department had challenged a disciplinary authority order that removed him from service for proven misconduct of another marriage while the first marriage existed. The employee had sought protection under Article 25 of the Constitution, which deals with the right to profess religion. However, the Court had ruled that under Article 25 religious faith was protected and not a practice which went against public order, health or morality.

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