Muslim woman moves Kerala HC, questions 90-day waiting period after divorce

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A Muslim woman has approached the Kerala high court seeking exemption from the mandatory 90-day waiting period, termed “iddah”, to remarry after divorcing her husband through “khula”.

The 25-year-old woman from Thalassery has contended that she had been living separately for over two years and had not had sex with her husband during this period. “Iddah” which, among other purposes, is meant to determine the paternity of a child if one is born after divorce, is therefore unnecessary, she argued. She is willing to prove medically that she is not pregnant, the plea said.

After considering the plea during an admission hearing on Thursday, a division bench comprising Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Sophy Thomas has issued a stay on a family court’s order of November 19 barring her from remarrying following “khula”, a divorce process initiated by a woman. It was in April this year that the HC had held that “khula” is legally valid.

As per the petition filed through advocate TP Sajid, the woman got married in July 2017 and had been living separately since June 2019. She and her one-year-old son were allegedly chased out of her matrimonial home by her husband after she questioned vulgar messages from a woman on her husband’s phone, the petition said.

A petition seeking divorce, return of gold ornaments, and payment of maintenance is pending before the Thalassery family court since February last year. Meanwhile, the HC judgment that a woman can initiate divorce through “khula” was delivered and the woman sent a notice to her husband on October 21 informing him of divorce through “khula”. However, the family court at Ernakulam, considering a petition filed by the husband seeking restitution of conjugal rights, had issued an order restraining her from entering into a second marriage on the basis of “khula”.

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