Mehr will have to be paid whenever wife demands: SC

Sohail Khan
Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) observed on Wednesday that Mehr (dower) is an Islamic concept and specifically recognised by the law of Pakistan, hence the entire amount of dower would be payable on wife’s demand if any period was not specified in the Nikahnama or marriage contract.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, issued a written order in an appeal, filed by one Khalid Pervez against a decision of the Lahore High Court on May 24, 2023 regarding payment of Mehr (dower). The court dismissed the appeal, upheld the LHC decision, and imposed compensatory costs to the extent of Rs100,000 on the petitioner, considering decrease in the value of money.

The court directed that if Mehr and the said costs were not paid, the family court should execute the order, which might include the attachment of the properties of the petitioner. It held that Mehr is an Islamic concept, mentioned in the Holy Quran, (An-Nisa verse 4 and Al-Baqrah verses 236-7) and it is specifically recognised under Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1962. Mehr has to be paid whenever demanded by the wife.

The court noted that Section 10 of The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 stipulates that: “Where no details about the mode of payment of dower are specified in the Nikahnama, or the marriage contract, the entire amount of the dower shall be prescribed to be payable on demand.” The Supreme Court cited the case of one Syed Muhammad vs Mst. Zeenat (PLD 2001 SC 128) wherein the SC held that, Mehr can be demanded during the subsistence of the marriage, and that the husband is under an obligation to pay it.

The impugned judgment accords with the law and the counsel had not been able to point out any illegality therein. During the proceedings, the court noted that the petitioner had two wives, but the petitioner did not fulfil his obligations towards his wife Samina when he failed to pay the Mehr demanded by her. The court noted that Samina had to file a suit for recovery of the Mehr and maintenance, and the petitioner unnecessarily involved her in litigation, which reached this [Supreme] Court after six-and-a-half years.

“This kind of frivolous litigation is paralysing the judicial system of Pakistan,” says the written order, adding that the petitioner took up an untenable defence, and perpetuated it probably because costs were not imposed upon him and the courts did not insist that the decision of the Family Court should first be complied with before entertaining a challenge to it.