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Right of indigent Muslim Woman for maintenance is not confined to iddat nor limited to mehr amount: High Court of Karnataka

Getting married another time and having children from that marriage cannot be a reason for a Muslim man to resist the execution of maintenance decree obtained by his former wife from a court of law as held by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka through a learned bench of Justice Krishna Shripad Dixit in the case of The Idgah, Khabrastan V/S The Karnataka State Board Of Auqaf [WP 18556/2021 (KAHC010386402021)]. Petitioner was represented by, the learned counsel, Mr. Mahamad Tahira.

The brief facts of the case are that the petitioner had challenged the 2011 decree of a civil court directing him to pay ₹3,000 monthly maintenance to his ex-wife, Saira Banu, whom he had divorced by way of talaq within eight months of marriage way back in 1991. He was put in civil prison in 2012 for non-payment of maintenance and he moved the High Court in 2014 after the civil court rejected his contentions of financial incapacity to pay maintenance.

On the petitioner’s claim that the maintenance amount cannot exceed the quantum of mahr and has to be restricted to iddat period of three months post-talaq, the court said it was difficult to sustain such contentions in law in the changing society in view of the interpretation of laws on maintenance of divorced Muslim women by the apex court. Iddat refers to the period a woman must observe after the death of her husband or after divorce, while mahr is the obligation paid by the groom to the bride at the time of Islamic marriage.

The petitioner had claimed he was not liable to pay anything beyond the ₹5,000 paid as mahr and the ₹900 paid as maintenance for three months in 1991.

While dismissing the petition, with a cost of Rs.25,000, and giving relief to a divorced woman who had fought a legal battle on maintenance for two decades, the court said “a Muslim man hurriedly contracting another marriage after pronouncing talaq upon his first wife cannot be heard to say he has to maintain the new spouse and child and thus cannot discharge the maintenance decree”.

The Hon’ble Court also stated that, “It is a case of a hapless divorced woman who has secured a decree for her maintenance after years of struggle; she is relentlessly battling for its enforcement. It is a case involving the jural correlatives resting on the shoulders of ex-spouses by virtue of talaq,”.

 Justice Krishna Shripad Dixit, while dismissing the petition, concluded by stating that “He ought to have known his responsibility towards the former wife who does not have anything to fall back upon. The said responsibility arose from his own act of talaq…,”

 

Judgment Reviewed by – Aryan Bajaj

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