‘Khula’ Divorce and Maintenance: Kerala High Court’s Landmark Ruling

In a revolutionary ruling, the Kerala High Court reiterated that a Muslim woman who obtains a divorce through ‘Khula’ isn’t permitted to request maintenance from her husband once the divorce becomes official. The understanding of Islamic divorce practices and their legal ramifications is expected to undergo a substantial change as a consequence of this verdict.

Understanding ‘Khula’

The Muslim community follows the “Khula” divorce method, which is requested and accepted/consented by the wife. It often involves the wife providing consideration to her husband for her release from the marital bond. This practice, which has long been accepted in Islamic law, grants women a voice in ending a marriage.

The Legal Interpretation

Muslim women may request support under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) until they remarry, according to Justice A. Badharudeen. However, according to Section 125(4) of the CrPC, a wife is not entitled to financial assistance if she chooses to live apart from her husband or if they do so with mutual consent.

The court stated that a wife’s decision to choose “Khula” to end the marriage is analogous to her decision to not reside with her husband as outlined in Section 125(4) of the CrPC. Consequently, as of “Khula,” she won’t be entitled to financial maintenance.

Also Read: Kerala High Court Rules that Private Consumption of Pornography is Not a Criminal Offense

This Case

The ruling came from a case where a man appealed a family court judgment ordering him to provide his ex-wife and kid a monthly stipend. The court noted that the parties had been living separately since December 31, 2018, and the legal battle began in 2019. The woman, who was also unemployed, sought financial assistance, claiming their separation due to the husband’s alleged abuse and extramarital affairs. The court, however, made clear that maintenance must be paid up until the ‘Khula’ divorce is formally executed, after which the obligation ceases.

Significance of the Verdict

This ruling defines the ‘Khula’ divorces’ legal position with regard to maintenance and is a crucial development because it emphasizes how significant it is for both parties to agree and have a thorough grasp of the implications associated with these divorce proceedings. The court also emphasized how divorced Muslim women are protected financially under Islamic law, based on multiple Supreme Court rulings, until they find new husbands or adequate assistance is provided until then.

The Kerala High Court’s judgment establishes the ‘Khula’ divorce’s legal status and its implications on assistance. It preserves the idea that “Khula” is a voluntary action similar to declining to cohabitate. Hence, no maintenance is owed as of the “Khula” date. This decision marks a significant turning point in the continuing evolution of Islamic divorce jurisprudence in India.

Major arguments on the changing legal environment pertaining to Muslim women’s rights and entitlements during divorce have been brought up by the Kerala High Court’s decision. It also highlights how essential it is to accept individual choices made in a religious setting while abiding by the law. The ‘Khula’ divorce and the determination of maintenance rights now stand on a foundation because of this significant ruling, ushering in a new era in Indian law concerning Islamic divorce.

Also Read: Touching A Woman Without Their Consent Is Unacceptable, Says Kerala High Court

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