The Bombay High Court, in a historic judgment held that a Muslim woman can seek reliefs like monthly maintenance, custody of children and also accommodation under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV) of 2005. The HC ruled that the fact that Muslim marriages are governed by their personal laws, but the same do not bar a woman to seek reliefs under the DV Act.
Justice Bharati Dangre
Background of the case
A brief chronology of facts and events leading to the filing of the present petition is culled out in the subsequent paragraphs:
The court was hearing a writ petition filed by one Ali Abbas Daruwala, challenging a judgment of the Family Court, Bandra dated June 22, 2017, wherein the wife’s application for maintenance was allowed. In the said judgment, Ali was directed to pay Rs.25,000 per month to the wife and Rs.20,000 per month each for both their kids towards maintenance. Ali and his wife Shahnaz belong to the Alvi Bohra community and got married on October 16, 1997.
In 2015, Shahnaz filed a petition for divorce under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 before the Family Court, Bandra. She prayed custody of their children, maintenance and accommodation. Shahnaz also filed a separate application for maintenance and accommodation which was opposed by Ali in an application under Order 7 Rule 11(a) of the Civil Procedure Code. This application was rejected and the wife again filed an application for maintenance and accommodation on May 20, 2016.
In June 2017, respondent wife filed an application under Sections 12, 18, 19, 20, 22 and 23 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
On the applicability of the DV Act in this case, the court noted:
“The scheme of the enactment does not restrict the applicability of the provisions of the Act to a particular category of women, nevertheless to a woman belonging to a particular religion. No doubt the Muslim women are also governed by several other enactments in the form of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 etc., however, the rights conferred under the said enactment can in no way curtail the operation or Protection granted under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.”
The court concluded that if both parties are governed by Muslim Personal Law, it is not an impediment in the wife invoking the jurisdiction of the court under the provisions Domestic Violence Act and there is no embargo of the said court to confer the relief on the woman, who is an “aggrieved person” within the scope and meaning of the Act, merely because she belongs to Muslim religion. Thus, the husband’s challenge to order directing him to provide the maintenance was dismissed.