Madras High Court Affirms Muslim Polygamy Rights in Islamic Law while Stressing Equal Treatment

Madras Hc Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: December 28, 2023 at 18:36 IST

In a recent decision, the Madras High Court reinforced the entitlement of a Muslim husband to practice polygamy under Islamic Law, while emphasizing the imperative of treating all wives equally.

The ruling came in the case of Mukmuthu Sha v. Mohammed Afrin Banu, where a family Court in Tirunelveli had granted a dissolution of marriage on grounds of cruelty.

The bench, comprising Justices RMT Teeka Raman and PB Balaji, upheld the family Court’s decision, highlighting that the husband and his family members subjected the first wife to torture and harassment. Subsequently, the husband entered into a second marriage without maintaining equality between the two spouses, leading to a finding of cruelty.

The judgment stated, “Under the Islamic law, the husband is entitled to a polygamous marriage; however, he has to treat all the wives equally.

The first wife alleged mistreatment during her pregnancy, claiming insufficient care and cruelty from her husband and in-laws. She cited instances where she was scolded for not properly draping a saree while pregnant and faced harassment for a miscarriage. Additionally, she asserted that the husband demanded her return, threatening a second marriage, which he subsequently pursued and has since been living happily with the second wife.

While the husband denied the allegations, the Court, after scrutinizing the evidence, found that the first wife successfully demonstrated unequal treatment and lack of proper care.

The bench emphasized the husband’s duty to maintain the wife, even if she resides with her parents, and noted his failure to fulfill marital obligations.

The Court concluded that the husband’s actions amounted to cruelty, justifying the dissolution of the marriage granted by the family court.

In dismissing the husband’s appeal, the Madras High Court affirmed the family court’s findings and underscored the husband’s obligation to treat all wives equally under Islamic Law.

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