As a law firm representing many Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), it is imperative that we provide an in-depth analysis of Section 2 of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. This section deals with the grounds on which a Muslim wife can seek dissolution of her marriage. The provision lays down three main grounds for seeking divorce: cruelty, desertion, and non-maintenance.
The act defines ‘cruelty’ as “the husband has treated the petitioner with cruelty, such that it has become intolerable to live with him.” In interpreting this term, it has been held by courts that mere occasional outbursts or ordinary quarrels between spouses do not qualify as grounds for cruelty. Rather it must be such harsh conduct or behavior towards the wife which makes living together impossible.
Desertion under Section 2 means “that the husband has abandoned his petitioner-wife without any reasonable cause and without her consent”. To establish desertion as a ground for dissolution under this provision, there must be complete abandonment on part of husband coupled with persistence over a period exceeding two years.
Non-maintenance refers to when “the husband who is liable to maintain his wife fails to do so for at least two years.” Under Islamic law, maintenance includes providing basic necessities like food clothing and shelter but may extend beyond these items if considered essential by court since women are financially dependent on their husbands and cannot survive independently.
Various case laws have elucidated these provisions further over time. For instance in Masuda Parveen v State Of Himachal Pradesh & Anr (2015), masuda moved HC alleging that she had been forced into performing sexual acts against her wishes after being promised love marriage with accused but later he refused leading to mental harassment due from constant forceful sex request ,this was established has legitimate reasons before granting divorce application filed via Section 2-Dissolution act . whereas Shahmuddin, Abdul Hamid v Nahid Akhtar & Anr (2011), the wife filed for a divorce under Section 2-Dissolution act since her husband had deserted her and left India without permission. The court granted the divorce as the husband was considered to have abandoned his wife without reasonable cause.
NRIs often face unique challenges in marital discord situations due to cross-border complexities. It’s relevant because it enables Muslim wives who have been subjected to cruelty or abandonment by their Non-Resident husbands, with grounds of seeking dissolution of marriage.This provision is essential in ensuring protection from domestic violence, abuse and mistreatment suffered by women married to NRIs including maintenance for sustenance which cannot be overlooked solely on account of residency.
In conclusion, Section 2 of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act lays down vital criteria based on which Muslim wives can approach courts for dissolution of their marriages where they suffer intolerable marriages perpetuated through cruelties , desertion and non-maintenance . Its interpretation has been expanded over time via case laws making it easier to establish these grounds. It remains an important legal safeguard available even for Non resident Indian Muslim Wives when traditional relationships fail or abuses occur beyond borders requiring support from this legislation in India too enabling them continue with normal lives divorced from abusive relationships that otherwise would not have been possible without such provisions.