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Kerala Muslim Jamaat Challenges High Court Ruling on Khula in Supreme Court

Supreme Court to examine whether Muslim women have right to unilateral divorce through Khula

The Supreme Court issued a notice yesterday (April 1) in response to a petition challenging a Kerala High Court judgment that recognized Muslim women’s unconditional right to seek khula, a form of divorce in Islamic law. Justices AS Bopanna and Sanjay Kumar presided over the hearing concerning a matrimonial appeal and the subsequent dismissal of a review petition against the original order.

Special Leave Petitions were filed separately in the Supreme Court by the Kerala Muslim Jamaat and an individual petitioner, both challenging the High Court’s ruling. The High Court’s decision stemmed from a matrimonial appeal concerning a Muslim wife’s right to divorce under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act. Overruling a 49-year-old precedent, the High Court affirmed that Muslim women possess the inherent right to dissolve their marriages, as granted by the Quran, and are not dependent on their husband’s consent. Additionally, the High Court clarified the conditions for valid khula, emphasizing the wife’s declaration of termination, offer to return gifts received during marriage, and prior attempt at reconciliation.

In response to the review petition challenging this ruling, the High Court upheld its decision, emphasizing the wife’s autonomy in initiating khula proceedings. It reasoned that a wife’s right to khula cannot be contingent upon her husband’s consent and is firmly rooted in Islamic principles.

The petitioner appealed these decisions to the Supreme Court, arguing that while a wife may seek divorce, it should be subject to judicial oversight. The petitioner contended that the current interpretation deviates from established legal precedent.

Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, representing the petitioner, emphasized the need for judicial intervention in khula proceedings to ensure compliance with legal standards. Following arguments from Kamat and a review of the case records, the Bench issued a notice to the respondents.

The case titles are as follows: X v. Y, Diary No.- 11727 – 2023, and Kerala Muslim Jamaat v. Y, Diary No. 16709 – 2023.

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