Supreme Court Makes a Landmark Ruling on Second Marriage

Supreme court of Pakistan makes a landmark ruling on second marriages without the consent of the first wife, which went after Muhammad Jameel from Peshawar disagreed with the verdict of Peshawar High Court (PHC) and requested the Supreme Court to review the decision, here on Wednesday. 

Muhammad Jameel had reportedly married for the second time without the consent of his first wife. Under the subsection (5) of section 6 of the Ordinance of 1961, she sued her husband in Peshawar High court (PHC) for contracting a second marriage without her consent or the arbitration council’s approval as per law. 

Peshawar High court (PHC) gave its verdict in favor of the plaintiff. As per the verdict, Muhammad Jameel, the defendant, was directed to pay the full amount of dower (Haq Mehar), whether it is prompt (Maher Mua’jal), i.e., to be paid immediately or deferred (Maher Mova’jal) as mentioned in the contract of marriage.

The defendant, Muhammad Jameel, protested and challenged the verdict of Peshawar High Court (PHC) in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He argued that it was against the Shariah as he was allowed to keep four wives at a time.

Supreme Court strictly maintained the PHC verdict and set aside the petition of the defendant.

Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Atta Bandial, a two-member bench, was made to hear his appeal against the PHC decision on behalf of the Supreme Court.

second marriage
second marriage

The court in its five-page verdict observed that a citizen of Pakistan could not legally enter into a second marriage without the written permission of his first wife, more importantly, the arbitration council in the first place, under “THE MUSLIM FAMILY LAWS ORDINANCE 1961(VIII of 1961) Section 6 Sub-section (1)”, which states that:

“No man, during the subsistence of an existing marriage, shall, except with the previous permission in writing of the Arbitration Council, contract another marriage, nor shall any such marriage contracted without such permission be registered under this Ordinance.”

The written verdict also stated that the law serves to steer society in the most balanced and efficient way possible.

In case he does, he is subject to the legal proceeding and will be made to pay the entire amount of dower immediately, agreed at the time of marriage to his first wife. 

That again is clearly stated in “THE MUSLIM FAMILY LAWS ORDINANCE 1961(VIII of 1961) Section 6 Sub-section (5)”, which states that:

” Any man who contracts another marriage without the permission of the Arbitration Council shall.

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 (a) pay the entire amount of the dower immediately, whether prompt or deferred, due to the existing wife or wives, which amount, if not so paid, shall be recoverable as arrears of land revenue; and

(b) on conviction upon complaint be punishable with the simple imprisonment which may extend to one year and with a fine of five hundred thousand rupees.”

For the record, THE MUSLIM FAMILY LAWS ORDINANCE 1961 applies to every person who possesses the national identity card (NIC) regardless of his location anywhere around the world.

International media encourages and highlights steps such as these taken in favor and security of women, especially in Islamic countries. Islamic Ideology Council (IIC) has often criticized laws that provide women more power over men in the society, such as the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Bill, 2016, and THE MUSLIM FAMILY LAWS ORDINANCE. A few days back, it circulated that the law has been annulled, but this recent incident on Wednesday confirmed that the law still abides. Because the court is not legally bound to the suggestions of IIC.

This legal proceeding is significant because it ensures women’s security and discourages polygamy in Pakistan, which is very commonplace in the country, especially the rural areas.

Prophet (PBUH) emphasized that one wife is always preferable due to the fear of injustice. For sure, Islam has given man the right of the second marriage, but it also binds a citizen to obey the laws of the state strictly. Such laws are meant to prevent any unwarranted second marriages and ensure that every citizen, woman in this particular case, gets to enjoy their fundamental rights of security and finance. Besides, it does not take away the right of second marriage from man. The only thing it makes sure of is that there are substantial grounds, and the first wife is secure. 

BY: URWAH TAUSEEF

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