Madhya Pradesh High Court: Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, Non-Applicable Against In-Laws

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The applicants filed an anticipatory bail in the Madhya Pradesh High Court. They apprehended arrest under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019. The Court rationalized the provisions under the said Act while granting bail.

Brief Facts of the Case 

The complainant, a Muslim woman, returned to her parental home after a matrimonial dispute. On 13.04.2020, the complainant filed an FIR against her husband and in-laws. She alleged harassment for dowry money. Further, she reported an instant divorce with her husband via telephonic communication.

On 15.06.2020, the complainant requested the immediate arrest of the applicants. The applicants were further charged under 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. And also with Section 3/4 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019. 

Ratio Decidendi

The present matter has been litigated under the newly enacted parliamentary legislation. As the interpreter of the laws, the Court has asserted-

“The provisions of The Muslim Women Act, 2019 are applicable only against the husband and not against in-laws.”

The ratio may be traced to the Muslim Personal Laws in India. The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 provides for a pre-condition for competency to contract under Section 11 of the India Contract Act, 1972. Hence, Muslim marriage is a contract. Furthermore, the provisions thereof must be applied only against the husband. 

Arguments before the Court

The complainant’s counsel has submitted the documents of FIR dated 13.04.2020. The counsel also added facts to prosecute the in-laws. When the complainant got pregnant, the mother-in-law did not accept the fetus to be born out of her son’s wedlock. Moreover, she pestered the complainant for additional dowry. Hence, the applicants must be subject to criminal proceedings.

The applicant’s counsel submitted the timeline of the events. The counsel submitted that the complainant lodged FIR over a month after returning to the parental house. Further, the complainant has agreed that the Court pronounced the divorce on 29.03.2020. However, she also claims that applicants demanded dowry after the divorce. Hence, the complainant altered the series of events. 

The Court found merits in the applicant’s submission. The Court stated that due to complainant’s early pregnancy, the husband doubted her. Consequently, he annulled the marriage. Hence, questioning the demand for dowry post the pronouncement of divorce.

The Court decided the matter in the lights of facts, arguments and observations. 

Court’s Order

Justice Shailendra Shukla pronounced the judgement. The Court granted anticipatory bail to the applicants. The anticipatory bail comes under Section 438 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It has specified the personal bonds’ amount to Rs. 50,000 each. 


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