LAHORE: The Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has ordered the federal and Punjab governments to amend column 13 of the Nikahnama, which deals with the amount of dower, to avoid problems between a couple after marriage.

A division bench comprising Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf and Justice Raheel Kamran has been asked by the chief justice to decide a matter relating to questions whether columns 13 and 16 (relating to the dower) in the Nikahnama are to be read separately or in conjunction with each other or entries in the document can operate against a person not privy to it.

According to facts of the case, a house owned by a man had been mentioned as haq mehr in the Nikahnama of his son. The man was neither a signatory to the document nor had he given any consent for the transfer of the same in favour of his daughter-in-law, so she was precluded to claim the said house. The woman had approached the high court against an order of a sessions court.

In the verdict, the judges noted that column 13 exclusively dealt with the amount of dower whereas columns 14, 15 and 16 were in addition to column 13 in order to explain the nature of the dower, part of dower if paid at the time of marriage or the property in lieu of the dower.

The bench observed that marriage is a civil contract, which has for its object the procreation and the legalising of children and dower or “mehr” is the sum of money or other property which the wife is entitled to from the husband in consideration of the marriage.

It noted that if the property mentioned in the Nikahnama was not owned by the groom, but rather his father, mother or brother, who is neither a signatory to the Nikahnama nor had agreed to transfer the same in favour of the bride, entries in the Nikahnama could not be enforced against him/her and he/she cannot be deprived of his/her property.

The situation, however, would become different when on behalf of a groom his father, mother or any other person being owner of such property found mentioned in the Nikahnama became signatory to the document, he/she binds himself/herself to the terms and conditions and as such, he/she parts with the ownership rights of the property in favour of the bride.

The bench observed that the anomalies often occurred due to incompetence or wilful fault on the part of nikah registrars, who ordinarily avoided adherence to the rules. In order to avoid such problems in the future, the bench issued a directive to all nikah registrars to ensure compliance with rules while recording entries in the Nikahnama.

“They shall also avoid incorporating any entry other than allowed in Nikahnama and take special care while making entries in columns 13 to 16,” the bench added.

The bench has ordered the governments to amend column 13 in the Nikahnama form and categorise the dower as an amount in cash, moveable property and immovable property with specification.

The governments have also been directed to prescribe minimum educational qualification for the grant of licence to a nikah registrar in pursuance of the 1961 rules, and make arrangements for their proper training.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2021

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