Saturday, March 1, 2014

Muslim women Divorce Law in India

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A woman married under Muslim law shall be entitled to obtain a decree for divorce for the dissolution of her marriage on any one or more of the following grounds, namely:-
• That the whereabouts of the husband have not been known for a period of four years: if the husband is missing for a period of four years the wife may file a petition for the dissolution of her marriage. The husband is deemed to be missing if the wife or any such person, who is expected to have knowledge of the husband, is unable to locate the husband. Section 3 provides that where a wife files petition for divorce under this ground, she is required to give the names and addresses of all such persons who would have been the legal heirs of the husband upon his death. The court issues notices to all such persons appear before it and to state if they have any knowledge about the missing husband. If nobody knows then the court passes a decree to this effect which becomes effective only after the expiry of six months. If before the expiry, the husband reappears, the court shall set aside the decree and the marriage is not dissolved.

• That the husband has neglected or has failed to provide for her maintenance for a period of two years: it is a legal obligation of every husband to maintain his wife, and if he fails to do so, the wife may seek divorce on this ground. A husband may not maintain his wife either because he neglects her or because he has no means to provide her maintenance. In both the cases the result would be the same. The husband’s obligation to maintain his wife is subject to wife’s own performance of matrimonial obligations. Therefore, if the wife lives separately without any reasonable excuse, she is not entitled to get a judicial divorce on the ground of husband’s failure to maintain her because her own conduct disentitles her from maintenance under Muslim law.
• That the husband has been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of seven years or upwards: the wife’s right of judicial divorce on this ground begins from the date on which the sentence becomes final. Therefore, the decree can be passed in her favour only after the expiry of the date for appeal by the husband or after the appeal by the husband has been dismissed by the final court.
• That the husband has failed to perform, without reasonable cause, his marital obligations for a period of three years: the Act does define ‘marital obligations of the husband’. There are several marital obligations of the husband under Muslim law. But for the purpose of this clause husband’s failure to perform only those conjugal obligations may be taken into account which are not included in any of the clauses of Section 2 of this Act.
• That the husband was impotent at the time of the marriage and continues to be so: for getting a decree of divorce on this ground, the wife has to prove that the husband was impotent at the time of the marriage and continues to be impotent till the filing of the suit. Before passing a decree of divorce of divorce on this ground, the court is bound to give to the husband one year to improve his potency provided he makes an application for it. If the husband does not give such application, the court shall pass the decree without delay. In Gul Mohd. Khan v. Hasina the wife filed a suit for dissolution of marriage on the ground of impotency. The husband made an application before the court seeking an order for proving his potency. The court allowed him to prove his potency.
• If the husband has been insane for a period of two years or is suffering from leprosy or a virulent veneral disease: the husband’s insanity must be for two or more years immediately preceding the presentation of the suit. But this act does not specify that the unsoundness of mind must be curable or incurable. Leprosy may be white or black or cause the skin to wither away. It may be curable or incurable. Veneral disease is a disease of the sex organs. The Act provides that this disease must be of incurable nature. It may be of any duration. Moreover even if this disease has been infected to the husband by the wife herself, she is entitled to get divorce on this ground.
• That she, having been given in marriage by her father or other guardian before she attained the age of fifteen years, repudiated the marriage before attaining the age of eighteen years, provided that the marriage has not been consummated;
• That the husband treats her with cruelty, that is to say,-
(a) Habitually assaults her or makes her life miserable by cruelty of conduct even if such conduct does not amount to physical illtreatment, or
(b) Associates with women of ill-repute or leads an infamous life, or
(c) Attempts to force her to lead an immoral life, or
(d) Disposes of her property or prevents her exercising her legal rights over it, or
(e) Obstructs her in the observance of her religious profession or practice, or
(f) If he has more than one wives, does not treat her equitably in accordance with the injunctions of the Holy Quran.
In Syed Ziauddin v. Parvez Sultana , Parvez Sultana was a science graduate and she wanted to take admission in a college for medical studies. She needed money for her studies. Syed Ziaudddin promised to give her money provided she married him. She did. Later she filed for divorce for non-fulfillment of promise on the part of the husband. The court granted her divorce on the ground of cruelty. Thus we see the court’s attitude of attributing a wider meaning to the expression cruelty. In Zubaida Begum v. Sardar Shah , a case from Lahore High Court, the husband sold the ornaments of the wife with her consent. It was submitted that the husband’s conduct does not amount to cruelty.
In Aboobacker v. Mamu koya , the husband used to compel his wife to put on a sari and see pictures in cinema. The wife refused to do so because according to her beliefs this was against the Islamic way of life. She sought divorce on the ground of mental cruelty. The Kerela High Court held that the conduct of the husband cannot be regarded as cruelty because mere departure from the standards of suffocating orthodoxy does not constitute un-Islamic behaviour.
In Itwari v. Asghari , the Allahabad High Court observed that Indian Law does not recognize various types of cruelty such as ‘Muslim cruelty’, ‘Hindu cruelty’ and so on, and that the test of cruelty is based on universal and humanitarian standards; that is to say, conduct of the husband which would cause such bodily or mental pain as to endanger the wife’s safety or health.

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