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Muslim Law Dower And Right To Maintenance

Dower in Muslim family law it is considered as sum of money or other property which the wife is entitled to receive from the husband in consideration of marriage.�
Whereas Mahr has been compared with the price in a contract of sales because a marriage is a civil contract and sale is a typical contract to which Muslim jurists are accustomed to refer to by way of analogy.

Dower is not a consideration proceeding from the husband for the contract of marriage but it is an obligation imposed by law on the husband.

Quantum of Dower

The only peculiarity of the Muslim Law is that no school of Muslim law fixes the quantum/amount of dower. Usually the dower is fixed in terms of money. No writing is required, though usually a written deed, known as Mahr � nama (dower-deed) is executed at the time of marriage.

Classification of Dower

Dower is classified in two ways:
  1. Specific Dower �it means the mutual agreement between the parties.
  2. Proper Dower- it is also known customary dower arising out by the operation of law.

Dower�s Nature and Mode of Enforcement

Dower vests in the wife and she can recover it like actionable claims. She has power to assign it , though in Muslim law dower is a debt but it is unsecured debt.
It being an unsecured debt wife has to stand in the queue like other creditors of the husband. However, a wife who has her husband�s property in her possession has a right to retain it till the time he doesn�t pay her dower.

Right to Retention

It is the right of Muslim wife to continue to be in possession of her husband�s property in those cases where her dower has not been paid.
It has following implications:
  1. She has no right to alienate the property.
  2. Her right of retention doesn�t bar her from filing suit for the recovery of her dower �debt.
  3. A Muslim widow has a full right to take possession of income and profits.

Right of retention is lost in the following cases:

  1. When it is satisfied that wife has taken full amount of dower from income and profits of the property.
  2. On her alienation of the property together with possession.
  3. On her voluntarily handing over possession to heir.
The Muslim law is salient on the question that weather the right to retention is transferable or heritable.

Maintenance To Muslim Women under Muslim Women Act, 1986

The act makes provision for matters connected therewith. It is apparent that the act nowhere stipulates that any of the rights available to the Muslim women at the time of enactment of the act are taken away or abriged.

The act lays down that:
  1. Divorced woman is entitled to have a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance from her former husband , and the husband must do so within the period of idda and his obligations are not confined with the period of idda
  2. Application pending under section 125 Cr.Pc should be disposed off under section 7 of the act.
  3. There is no provision which nullifies the order of 125 Cr.pc . The act doesn�t take away vested right of the Muslim women.
  4. All obligations of maintenance end with her remarriage.

Maintenance From Other Relations And Wakf Board

Section 4 of Muslim Women Act 1986, lays down that a Muslim woman is entitled to maintenance from her relatives or Wakf Board, if wife isn�t able to maintain herself and if she has not been able to obtain any fair and reasonable maintenance from her husband.
for moving an application under section 4 the basic requirements are as follows;
  1. She shouldn�t have remarried
  2. She is not able to maintain her self after the idda period.

Thus the act secures that Muslim woman to have sufficient means to live her life with dignity even after divorce.

Dower (Mahr) Muslim Women Law

Written By: Jasdeep kaur � Ex Law officer Govt of Delhi NCT, Advocate Delhi High Court, LLM 2016-17( Uslls IP university Delhi Dwarka) Phd Law ( Pursuing )
Email: [email protected]

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