The Karnataka High Court has said that contracting a second marriage by a Muslim may be lawful, but it causes enormous cruelty to the first wife. The Kalaburagi Division Bench, comprising Justices Krishna S Dixit and P Krishna Bhat recently dismissed an appeal to set aside a trial court judgement, which justified the dissolution of marriage in a case filed by Ramjanbi, first wife of the appellant Yusufpatel Patil.
"Though contracting a second marriage by a Muslim may be lawful, it more often than not, causes enormous cruelty to the first wife, justifying her claim for divorce," the Bench observed.
Patil, from the district headquarter town of Vijayapura in north Karnataka, had married Ramjanbi in July 2014 in Bengaluru as per Muslim personal law. Shortly after that, he contracted a second marriage.
Subsequently, Ramjanbi filed a suit in a lower court, seeking dissolution of marriage on the grounds of cruelty and desertion, alleging that she and her parents were manhandled by the appellant and his parents. Patil then filed the petition in the High Court, saying that he loved his first wife, who is a respondent in the case.
Patil had stated before the court that he contracted the second marriage "only because of the irresistible pressure mounted by his parents, who are quite powerful and politically influential". He further justified his second marriage, saying that the Sharia law permits a Mohammaden to contract plural wives "and such a conduct per se does not amount to cruelty, nor constitute a ground for opposing restitution of conjugal rights."
The Bench dismissed the contention that Sharia law allows plural wives to restore the first marriage. "If this, in the given circumstances is recognised as a justification, a husband may contract two more marriages as well, seeking shelter under Sharia," the Bench observed.