Case: A. Yousuf Rawther vs Sowramma
Citation: AIR 1971 Ker 26
Name of the parties:
Plaintiff- A. Yousuf Rawther,
Decided on: 24th June 1970
Sowramma, a Hanafi girl, aged 15 was married to Yusuf Rowthar who was twice her age in 1962. Sowramma had attained puberty before her marriage and soon after their wedding was residing with her husband in their conjugal home. The immediate next day the husband had gone off to Coimbatore where he ran a radio dealer’s business. The plaintiff stayed in her conjugal home for one month after which she returned back to her parents. The reason for such a return was blamed on the husband. The separation lasted for a span of two years during which the defendant failed to maintain his wife. The reason for this was that the defendant was keen to restore their relationship but the plaintiff refused to return to her conjugal home. After which action of dissolution of marriage was instituted by the wife.
The trial court dismissed the suit but the Subordinate Judge’s court granted a decree for the dissolution of marriage. The husband, aggrieved by the decision had approached the court to challenge the validity of the decree of the lower appellate court.
Whether the wife can claim dissolution of marriage for the failure of the husband to maintain the wife for 2 years?
The court held that the principles of the Holy Quran of marriage regarding divorce were directed for the betterment of womanhood and one not fulfilling his duty as a husband should not expect the same from the wife. The court dismissed the appeal and directed the parties to bear their respective litigation costs. It held that failure to provide maintenance to wife is ground for dissolution of marriage.
With reference to a wife initiating divorce the court observed that under Islamic law and Quran law too, there were provisions for it. The court, in this case, relied on the judgment of Tyabji, C.J in the case of Noor Bibi vs Pir Bux and found it concurrent with the Islamic Texts and ethos of the Muslim Community. It served as a proficient case to interpret the provisions of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939. The argument in the Sindh ruling states ‘In the Muslim law of dissolutions, the failure to maintain when it has continued for a prolonged period in such circumstances, is regarded as an instance where a cessation or suspension of the marriage had occurred. It will be seen therefore that the wife’s disobedience or refusal to live with her husband does not affect the principle on which the dissolution is allowed.”
It was held that even though the wife may have contributed towards the failure of the maintenance by her husband, the wife is entitled to a decree for the dissolution of her marriage, provided that the husband fails to maintain her for a period of two years.
In my opinion, this case bears significant importance as Justice Iyer in his concluding argument emphasized that only when equal rights are enjoyed by both spouses be it in their marital life or through a divorce can the social imbalances between the sexes be removed. The practise of instant talaq has to be somewhat matched with the practice of Khula under judicial supervision to bridge the gap between both the sexes in exercising this remedy without biasness. The judgement, in this case, reiterates the same stance and is hence pivotal.