Unequal Treatment Of Wives Violates Quranic Injunctions: Kerala HC

The first wife sought divorce alleging that she has been living separately from her husband since 2014.

The Kerala High Court on December 1 clarified that a Muslim man who marries more than once is required to treat all his wives equally. Refusal to perform marital obligations with the first wife is good grounds for divorce, the high court said.

Unequal treatment of wives is against Quranic injunctions, the high court said granting a Muslim woman's plea for divorce. The division bench of the high court observed that if a Muslim man takes on a second wife without divorcing his first wife, it is incumbent on him to prove that he treated both of his wives equally in accordance with the rules laid down in the Quran.

"The refusal to cohabit and perform the marital obligations with the previous wife is tantamount to the violation of the Quranic injunctions which command equal treatment of the wives if the husband contracts more than one marriage," the high court's December 1 verdict held.

The Court found that the husband sent money to his first wife on several occasions when he was living abroad. However, the high court set aside the family court's decision denying divorce and said its assumption that providing maintenance would be sufficient to prove that the husband performed marital obligations was "erroneous and cannot stand the scrutiny of the law."

Also Read: Explained: What is the Uniform Civil Code?

Refusal to cohabit and perform marital duties against Quranic injunctions

The high court's observation came on a plea filed by a Muslim woman who sought to divorce her husband, who is also Muslim, under the provisions of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939.

The unhappy couple wed in August 1991 under the provisions of the Muslim Marriage Act and subsequently had three kids. In her plea, the wife alleged that when her husband was abroad, he married another woman without divorcing her. The first wife alleged that from 2014 onward, her husband stopped visiting her and they have been living separately ever since.

In his defence, the husband alleged that he was compelled to marry again after his first wife refused to have a sexual relationship with him. The court rejected this argument observing that it was not persuaded to believe the husband's version of events. "Three children were born in the wedlock. Two of them got married. Absolutely, there was no evidence to show that the respondent (husband) was willing to cohabit with the appellant," the court order read.

That means, he (husband) failed to perform the marital obligations, the division bench concluded.

Furthermore, the court pointed out that, "If there exists a marriage with another lady during the subsistence of the previous marriage, the burden is on the husband to prove that he had treated both wives equitably in accordance with the injunctions of Quran."

"Staying away from the first wife for five years itself would show that he had not treated them equally," the high court added.

The refusal to cohabit and perform the marital obligations with the previous wife is tantamount to the violation of the Quranic injunctions which commands equal treatment of the wives if the husband contracts more than one marriage," the court said granting the divorce plea.

Also Read: Centre Should Implement Uniform Civil Code, "Long Due": Allahabad HC


Updated On: 2021-12-20T20:39:24+05:30
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