Friday, January 27, 2023

Second marriage for a Muslim is lawful, but an act of cruelty to the first: Karnataka HC

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New Delhi: The Karnataka High Court has held that though contracting a second marriage by a Muslim man is lawful, but it causes enormous cruelty to the first wife.

A division bench of Justices Krishna S. Dixit and P. Krishna Bhat at Kalaburagi made this comment while hearing an appeal filed by a Muslim person against an order of the Family Court in favour of his first wife, dissolving the marriage between them.

In this case the wife had filed a suit before the family court, seeking a decree for dissolution of marriage on the grounds of cruelty and desertion, alleging that she and her parents were manhandled by her husband and his parents without any justification whatsoever.

Besides, the husband had contracted the second marriage when the respondent was pregnant with his child even as he had a child from the second wife.

The high court has observed and held this while rejecting the appeal of the husband and stated “marital cruelty” as a concept, emphasised that in spousal relationship, words, acts or conduct constituting cruelty are “infinitely variable with the increasing complexities of modern life.” 

“…merely because an act is lawful, it does not per se become justifiable in married life; for example… subject to all just exceptions, smoking and drinking are not unlawful; snoring too, is not; but still in certain circumstances, they may amount to cruelty to a sensitive spouse; on the same analogy, though contracting a second marriage by a Muslim may be lawful, it more often than not, causes enormous cruelty to the first wife justifying her claim for divorce,”

-the court said.

The pleading that he contracted the second marriage was performed under pressure from his very influential parents, who he couldn’t have defied, was “too poor a justification to say the least” the court said.

The court has observed that “if we consider this kind of contentions which have no justification, a husband may contract two more marriages as well, seeking shelter under Shariat.”

The court has made his opinion very clear that the husband had failed to establish the prior consent of his first wife. So, court held:

“It is a matter of common knowledge that women, regardless of their religion and socio-economic conditions, detest their husbands contracting a second marriage; therefore, the proof of consent requires cogent evidence which is militantly lacking in this case.”

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The court, while going through the records, made by the family court, pointed out that the husband had admitted that his first wife was tortured by his parents, the high court said the explanation offered by him in support of the second marriage hardly constituted any justification for opposing the claim of the first wife for divorce on the ground of cruelty.

– India Legal Bureau

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