The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) has ruled that a woman seeking divorce on the basis of ‘Khula’ would have to give up her ‘Haq-e-Mahr’ (dower) and declared amendments to the relevant pro-women laws passed by the Punjab Assembly nearly seven years ago as null and void.
The Punjab Assembly had amended the relevant laws to entitle women of receiving 50 percent of the unpaid ‘Haq-e-Mahr’, while getting a divorce on the basis of Khula. The amendments also bound the women to return 25 percent of the ‘Haq-e-Mahr’ already paid to her.
However, a three-member FSC bench, comprising Chief Justice Noor Muhammad Meskanzai, Justice Dr Syed Muhammad Anwar and Justice Khadim Hussain M Sheikh, unanimously ruled that a woman, divorcing her husband on the basis of Khula, would have to give up the 100 percent of the ‘Haq-e-Mahr’.
The Punjab Assembly passed the bill in 2015. It said that in case of divorce on the basis of Khula, the husband would be obliged to pay 50 percent of the unpaid ‘Haq-e-Mahr’, while the woman would be obliged to return 25 percent of the ‘Haq-e-Mahr’ paid to her by her husband at the time of marriage.
The bill was challenged in the FSC by lawyers Sardar Mohammad Hafeez Khan, Sardar Mohammad Humayun, Sardar Abid Zakir, Zofshan Siddiq and Raja Saqib. The hearing of the petitions continued for six and a half years.
Pleading the main petition, Sardar Muhammad Humayun Advocate argued that Islam had fixed the rules regarding ‘Nikah’ (marriage), ‘Talaq’ (divorce), and divorce on the basis of ‘Khula’. He stressed that Pakistan came into being in the name of Islam and the country did not allow any un-Islamic legislation.
He added that divorce on the basis of Khula meant the woman was getting divorce of her own free will without any reason. Therefore, he added, she should withdraw from 100 percent of the ‘Haq-e-Mahr’. He said that if a woman wanted full ‘Haq-e-Mahr’, she could file for divorce, but not ‘Khula’.
The representative of the Punjab government was of the view that the amendments were made in the interest of women and there was no malice involved. However, the petitioners told the court there was no room for “interests and intentions” in the Shariah matters.
While announcing the reserved judgment, the FSC declared that the amendments on the ‘Khula’ matter passed by the Punjab Assembly were un-Islamic and hence null and void. The court ruled that any woman who obtained divorce on the basis of ‘Khula’ would have to give up 100% of ‘Haq-e-Mahr’.