High Court relief for divorced woman seeking maintenance in 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, said the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday.

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”.

“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...,” observed Justice Krishna S. Dixit while dismissing of, with a cost of ₹25,000, a petition filed in 2015 by Ezazur Rehman of Bengaluru. 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.

Mahr and Iddat

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 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.

“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,” the court said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:26:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/high-court-relief-for-divorced-woman-seeking-maintenance-in-karnataka/article37080845.ece

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