Salient features of Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow

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The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 is an important legislation in India that provides grounds and procedures for the dissolution of marriages under Muslim personal law. Here are some of the salient features of the act:

  1. Grounds for dissolution: The act lays down various grounds on which a Muslim woman can seek the dissolution of her marriage. These include cruelty, desertion, failure to provide maintenance, impotency, insanity, and conversion to another religion.
  2. Judicial authority: The act grants the authority to dissolve Muslim marriages to the courts. A Muslim woman seeking divorce can file a petition in a civil court, which has the power to dissolve the marriage if the grounds mentioned in the act are satisfied.
  3. Maintenance during the proceedings: The act provides for the provision of maintenance to the wife during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. The court can order the husband to pay a reasonable amount of maintenance to the wife and any children from the marriage.
  4. Rights of divorced women: The act also addresses the rights of divorced Muslim women. It states that a divorced woman is entitled to maintenance from her former husband until she remarries or dies. Additionally, the act ensures that any gifts, properties, or assets given to the wife before or after the marriage are retained by her.
  5. Custody of children: The act includes provisions regarding the custody of children after the dissolution of marriage. It states that the court will determine the custody and maintenance of children, taking into consideration their welfare and the ability of the parents to provide for them.
  6. Arbitration: The act allows for the option of arbitration as an alternative method of resolving disputes between husband and wife. If both parties agree, they can refer their dispute to arbitration, and the decision of the arbitrator will have the same effect as that of a court.

Ground of divorce

The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 provides several grounds on which a Muslim woman can seek the dissolution of her marriage. These grounds are as follows:

  1. Cruelty: If the husband treats his wife with cruelty, either physical or mental, the wife can seek divorce on this ground. Cruelty refers to any act that causes physical or mental harm, making it difficult for the wife to live with the husband.
  2. Desertion: If the husband has abandoned his wife for a continuous period of at least two years, without any reasonable cause or the consent of the wife, she can seek divorce on the grounds of desertion.
  3. Non-payment of maintenance: If the husband fails to provide maintenance to his wife for a period of two years or more, the wife can seek dissolution of marriage on this ground.
  4. Impotency: If the husband is impotent or unable to consummate the marriage, the wife can seek divorce on this ground. However, the impotency must have existed at the time of marriage and should be incurable.
  5. Insanity: If the husband has been insane or suffering from mental illness for a continuous period of at least two years, the wife can seek divorce on this ground.
  6. Repudiation of marriage: If the husband repudiates the marriage by pronouncing talaq (divorce) on his wife, the wife can seek a dissolution of marriage.
  7. Conversion to another religion: If the husband renounces Islam and converts to another religion, the wife has the right to seek divorce on this ground.

It’s important to note that these grounds are specifically mentioned in the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, and they provide a legal framework for Muslim women to seek divorce under their personal law in India.