Remarried Muslim Women Eligible For Maintenance From Ex-Husband: Bombay High Court

Remarried Muslim Women Eligible For Maintenance From Ex-Husband: Bombay High Court

The judge opined that the essence of the Act is that a divorced woman is entitled to a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance regardless of her remarriage

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, January 06, 2024, 08:41 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

The right of divorced Muslim women to claim maintenance from their former husbands is unconditional and they can claim “reasonable and fair” amount from them even after remarriage, the Bombay High Court has held.

The high court noted that in section 3(1)(a) of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act (MWPA) 1986, the word “remarry” is missing. As per the Act, divorced Muslim women are entitled to a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance from their former husbands.

“In other words, the Act seeks to prevent the destitution of Muslim women and ensure their right to lead a normal life even after divorce. Hence the legislative intent of the Act is clear. It is to protect ‘all’  divorced Muslim Women and safeguard their rights,” observed Justice Rajesh Patil on January 2. 

“The protection referred to in the MWPA is unconditional.  Nowhere does the said Act intend to limit the protection that is due to  the former-wife on the grounds of the remarriage of the former-wife.” 

The judge opined that the essence of the Act is that a divorced woman is entitled to a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance regardless of her remarriage. “The fact of divorce between the husband and wife is in itself sufficient for the wife to claim maintenance under section 3 (1) (a),” the judge underlined. 

Women can claim maintenance on date of divorce: Court

Such entitlement of a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance is  crystallised on the date of divorce and the right to a reasonable and  fair provision and maintenance is not hampered by the former-wife’s  remarriage, it added. 

The HC dismissed the petition filed by a woman’s former husband challenging the orders of a magistrate court and sessions court which directed him payment of ₹9 lakh as one time alimony and ₹3,000 per month as maintenance for their daughter. 

The man, a resident of Chiplun, divorced his wife by a registered post on April 5, 2008. The couple married in 2005 and had a daughter the following year. Soon thereafter he went to Saudi Arabia for better earnings. He claimed that in June 2007, his wife shifted back to his parents house with their daughter. She then filed an application for maintenance for herself and daughter under the MWPA. 

The magistrate court directed him to pay her ₹4.32 lakh. On his appeal, the sessions court enhanced the amount to ₹9 lakh in 2017. He challenged this before the HC contending that since his wife remarried in the interim, he was not liable to pay any maintenance.

Disagreeing, the HC said that if such an argument was accepted and the husband is absolved of his duty on his ex-wife’s remarriage, then the husband would deliberately wait for his former wife to get remarried. “Such a condition is unfair and unacceptable and will frustrate the very essence of the said (MWPA) Act,” Justice Patil opined.

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