The Madras High Court held that, according to Islamic Law, a husband can engage in polygamous marriages but is obligated to treat all wives with equality.

The Court dismissed an Appeal filed by the Husband against the judgment and decree of the Family Court that dissolved the marriage between the said parties Section 2(ii)(iv)(viii)(a)(d) of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 (Act).

The Court noted that the wife effectively showed that the husband treated her unfairly compared to his second wife, failed to provide care and maintenance, and neglected marital obligations after their separation while she resided with her parents.

The Bench comprising Justice Rmt. Teekaa Raman and Justice P. B. Balaji observed, “Thereby, he has not treated the first wife and the second wife equally as required under the provisions of Islamic Law. Under the Islamic Law, the husband is entitled for Polygamous marriage, however, he has to treat all the wife equally”.

Advocate K. Abiya appeared for the Appellant and Advocate C. Jeya Indira Patel appeared for the Respondent.

An Appeal was filed before the High Court challenging the Judgment and Decree, issued by the Family Court, concerning the dissolution of the marriage between the Husband (Appellant) and the Wife (Respondent). The Wife had filed a suit under Section 2(ii)(iv)(viii)(a)(d) of the Act, alleging cruelty and mistreatment, especially during her pregnancy. The Wife sought dissolution due to mental cruelty and threats from the husband, who later remarried, further contributing to the plea for the dissolution of the marriage.

The Court noted that the Wife has successfully established that the Husband treated her unfairly in comparison to his second wife. The husband failed to care for and maintain the wife after their separation, neglecting his marital obligations even when she was with her parents.

The Court emphasized the husband's duty to provide maintenance, observing that if he was aggrieved by the separation, he should have taken steps for a reunion or, on reasonable grounds, pronounced Talaq according to Personal Law. However, the Husband did not take such actions, failed in his duty to maintain the Wife, and married another woman.

Furthermore, the Bench held that the husband's disparate treatment of his first and second wives, which resulted in demonstrated cruelties toward the first wife, along with his failure to provide maintenance for two years and fulfil matrimonial obligations for three years, warranted the dissolution of the marriage under Muslim Law.

Referring to the right of Muslim women to live separately in an uncongenial atmosphere, the Court dismissed the appeal, confirming the Family Court's decree of dissolution in favour of the wife.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Appeal.

Cause Title: P. K. Mukmuthu Sha v P. S. Mohammed Afrin Banu

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