Man must pay mehr to first wife immediately for contracting second marriage without her permission: SC

Published August 26, 2020
Law prohibits contracting second marriage without prior permission in writing of the Arbitration Council, top court says. — Dawn/File
Law prohibits contracting second marriage without prior permission in writing of the Arbitration Council, top court says. — Dawn/File

The Supreme Court has upheld a judgement of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) ordering a man to immediately pay mehr (dower) to his first wife for contracting a second marriage without her permission.

The order released on Wednesday was issued on a petition filed by Muhammad Jamil against a 2018 PHC judgement regarding a suit filed by his ex-wife Sajida Bibi seeking the recovery of mehr, dowry articles, gold ornaments and maintenance.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, observed in its judgement that Jamil had contracted a second marriage while being married to Bibi without her permission or that of the Arbitration Council.

Section 6 of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961, prohibits contracting second marriage without prior permission in writing of the Arbitration Council, the court noted.

It said by entering into the second marriage without the permission of his first wife and the Arbitration Council, Jamil was liable to pay her the dower immediately under Section 6(5)(a) of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961.

The said section reads, "Any man who contracts another marriage without the permission of the Arbitration Council shall [...] pay immediate the entire amount of dower 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."

"It is now abundantly clear that the entire amount of dower fixed at the time of marriage whether prompt or deferred is immediately payable on account of second marriage," the top court said in its judgement.

Noting that the provision of Section 6 of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance is in consonance with the injunctions of Islam, the judgement noted that the law "has not placed any restriction to contract second marriage, rather it only relates to seeking permission before entering into second marriage in order to regulate the structure of society as a whole".

It said any deviation from the provision of Section 6 might result in a "number of issues" which would "frustrate the fabric of relationship within society".

After hearing arguments from both sides, the SC ruled that the judgement by a single bench of the PHC ordering the immediate payment of dower of five tolas of gold is "quite in accordance with [the] law".

The petition was subsequently dismissed.

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