Shariat Council are NO Courts, seek Khula via Family Courts: Madras HC to Muslim Women


The Madras High Court has categorically upheld the decision of a Mulsim woman to dissolve her marriage through Khula – option of seeking unilateral divorce under the Muslim Personal Law – but stated that it will only be valid if sought via a family court and not by any ‘private or extra judicial body’ such as ‘Shariat Council’ that merely represents ‘some members of the community.’  

“While it is open for a Muslim Woman to exercise her inalienable rights to dissolve the marriage by Khula recognised under the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 by approaching a Family Court, it cannot be before a self-declared body consisting of few members of Jamath,” the HC observed.

The court further said that the ‘private bodies such as Shariat Council, the second responded herein cannot pronounce or certify dissolution of marriage by Khula.’ “They are not Courts or Arbitrators of disputes. The Courts have also frowned upon such practice as mentioned above,” the Madras HC said.

What is Khula?

In Islam, a woman who wishes to end her marriage contract without the consent of her husband must do so by applying to the Shariah Council. This kind of divorce is commonly referred to as Khula.

Valid Reasons to obtain Khula?

The Shariah Council must be satisfied with genuine reasons for an Islamic divorce to be granted. Valid reasons cover matters such as adultery, domestic violence, and other aspects of immoral behaviour.

How is the final decision made?

The final stage where a decision is made is known as the ‘Panel Meeting’ stage. The applicant is asked to speak to the panel directly and put forward their case. Following the panel meeting, the Sharia council finalises their decision and if the final decision is made, a formal divorce certificate similar to that of a Decree Absolute is issued.

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