Whether Second Marriage Under Muslim Law, Cruelty towards First Wife?

As per the Judgement, the facts are:

Both the appellant (Husband) and respondent (Wife) happened to be Sunni Muslims.

Their marriage was performed on 17.07.2014 in the presence of Jamat people of
Masjid-e-Mehraj at Bada Makan, Siddakha Road,
Bengaluru as per Shariyat Law. After the marriage,
for a short period, the parties led a happy life in a separate house, independent of parents of the Husband. 

The respondent (wife) had filed a suit in O.S.No.47/ 2016 seeking a decree for dissolution of
the her marriage on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. It was alleged that the appellant
and his parents manhandled her and her parents without any justification whatsoever.

The appellant had contracted a second marriage with another lady when the respondent was carrying and that he has begotten a child from the said lady.

The appellant (Husband) resisted the suit claim in addition to seeking a decree for
the restitution of conjugal rights inter alia contending that he had always loved the respondent.

The Husband further pleaded that he contracted the second marriage under
the irresistible pressure mounted by his parents, who are quite powerful & politically influential.

He further submitted that Shariat permits a Muslim to contract multiple marriages and
therefore such a conduct per se does not amount to cruelty, nor constitute a ground for opposing restitution of conjugal rights.

The Principal Judge of Family Court, after hearing the parties and going through the record, decreed the suit in favour of Wife.

The Husband feeling aggrieved filed an appeal before the Karnataka High Court, challenging the Judgement and Decree of Family Court.

A Bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit and Justice P.Krishna Bhat, of Karnataka High Court, declined to interfere on the following reasoning:

  1. The very institution of marriage is founded inter alia on the mutual support and security of spouses.
  2. If the Husband fails to protect his wife from his violent parents,
    the very trust of the wife is shaken, and therefore she is entitled to oppose restitution of conjugal rights, lest she should undergo the same ill-treatment.
  3. A husband may contract two more marriages seeking shelter under Shariat. However, the appellant failed to establish contention that the entry of the second lady to the existing matrimony is with the prior consent of the respondent-wife
  4. It is a matter of common knowledge that, women regardless of their religion and socio-economic conditions, detest their husbands contracting a second marriage.
  5. Therefore, the proof of consent requires compelling evidence which is militantly lacking in the case.
  6. Though contracting a second marriage by a Muslim may be lawful, but it more often than not causes enormous cruelty to the first wife justifying her claim for Divorce.

As such, the Karnataka High Court recognized second marriage in Muslim law as cruelty towards the First Wife and therefore a ground for dissolution of marriage.

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