Court ruling on maintenance for remarried Muslim divorcee

Staff Reporter

Entitled to maintenance from the next husband who divorces her

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Saturday held that a Muslim woman who was remarried and had received reasonable and fair provision and maintenance from her former husband was entitled to claim maintenance again under Section 3 of the Muslim Women Act, 1986 from the next husband who divorces her.

The ruling was handed down by Justice R. Basant while dismissing a petition filed by a Muslim man against the magistrate court's order directing him to provide maintenance to his divorced wife. Counsel for the petitioner contended that the wife who had earlier married twice and who had obtained an amount of Rs.30,000 from her first husband and had not claimed any amount from the second husband was not entitled to claim any amount from the third husband. Counsel argued that the amount payable under Section 3 (a) of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, was the maintenance amount due to her till the end of her life or till remarriage. The court observed that the Act protected "the better or superior rights" which the Muslim women were "assumed to have under their personal laws. She is entitled to a lumpsum one-time payment, which will be a substitute for the payment of maintenance. Even on her remarriage, she can keep such payment. She doesn't have to prove that she is unable to maintain herself. ."

The court observed that in every case where the woman actually remarried, the amount paid by way of fair and reasonable provision under Section 3(1)(a) of the Act by her former husband must be held to be sufficient provision for her till remarriage only and not till the end of her life. When she remarries, "the subsequent husband cannot be heard to contend that the former husband has already made provision for the wife till the end of her life." The former husband must make a reasonable and fair provision in favour of his divorced wife for her future, the court said.