In a significant ruling, the Madras High Court has emphasized that while Muslim men have the right to enter into four marriages, they are obliged to treat each wife with equality and fairness. The court’s decision came in response to a case where a woman alleged mistreatment during pregnancy, leading to a miscarriage, and subsequent harassment by her husband.
"मुसलमान कर सकते हैं 4 शादियां, पर हर पत्नी से करना होगा समान बर्ताव"
◆ मद्रास हाईकोर्ट ने कहा
— News24 (@news24tvchannel) December 28, 2023
The bench comprising Justices RMT Tika Raman and PB Balaji not only affirmed the woman’s allegations but also ordered the dissolution of the marriage, emphasizing the husband’s failure to treat his first wife on par with the second.
The woman, who was the man’s first wife, lodged a complaint stating that she faced harassment, especially during her pregnancy. Allegedly, she was not provided proper care, and instead, the food given to her triggered allergy problems. Tragically, the woman experienced a miscarriage, which she attributed to the harassment she endured.
The court upheld the woman’s grievances, noting that the husband’s actions violated Islamic principles, which require equal treatment of all wives in polygamous marriages. The judgment highlighted that the first wife was subject to mistreatment, including comparisons with relatives and disparagement of her culinary skills.
Detailing the sequence of events, the woman explained that the harassment became unbearable, leading her to leave her in-laws’ house. Despite her husband’s attempts to reconcile, she chose not to return. The husband, undeterred, went on to marry another woman while continuing to live with her.
The court, after scrutinizing documents and evidence, concluded that the husband had failed to fulfill his responsibilities towards the first wife. It was emphasized that under Islamic rules, a man can commit polygamy, but only on one condition that he treats each one of his wives equally.