For any lawful conjunction between a man and woman, it is necessary that there must be an offer and acceptance of the same. The parties must be of sound mind to such an extent that they must give their full and free consent to the marriage, and should have attained the age of puberty, the age of puberty is mostly regarded as 15 years, but the concept of age of puberty is particularly subjective. Along, with the communication of the offer of marriage, the dower amount (any valuable property could be in form of cash or any tangible asset) is given to the woman in exchange for her marrying the man. The dower amount is exercised by the woman at the dissolution of marriage either by mutual agreement or operation of law.
Granting the fact that, a solemnization of marriage creates the legal consequence of the same and thus, arises obligations and the spousal duties which spouses must fulfill during the term of the marriage.
It is relevant to note the fact that, there are different kinds of marriage under the law, and they are mentioned hereinafter:
- valid (sahih): this form of marriage is solemnized following all the essentials requirements. There must be ’ijab-o-qabool’, there should be free consent of the parties to the marriage, the parties should be competent to marry, both ijab-o-qabool should be done at one sitting, the parties should be competent to marry, and the marriage should not be prohibited on the grounds of consanguinity, affinity or fosterage
in these form of marriages, the husband and wife have the mutual right of inheritance, the wife is entitled to maintenance and the children born out of such marriage are legitimate
- irregular marriage (fasid): these marriages are contracted by parties suffering from, relative incapacity. Relative incapacity is just irregularities in the marriage, they could be in form of a difference of religion between the man and the woman, or absence of required witness i.e., two males and two females or one male and two females, while contracting a marriage. Irregularities or defects to the marriage could also be in any other form. To render the marriage valid, such irregularities must be removed. Prima facie such marriage has no legal effect. If the marriage has not been consummated, the wife shall not be entitled to dower. However, after consummation of marriage, she can get the dower, such a marriage does not create mutual rights of inheritance, and the children born out of such marriages are legitimate.
- Batil (void marriages): these marriages are contracted by the parties by absolute incapacity. Absolute incapacity arises out of the blood relations. For example, a man cannot marry his sister or his niece. Such marriage has no legal effect either before or after consummation. There are no mutual rights of inheritance, and the wife shall not be entitled to maintenance, the children born out of such marriage are illegitimate (by personal law)
- Muta marriage: It is a type of temporary marriage authorized by the ithna asaria shia school; it is marriage for a set length of time once the dower sum is specified. The period should be mentioned when the marriage contract is signed. If no period is specified then as per the decisions given S. A hussan v. rajjama, it will be treated as a permanent marriage. There is no limit to the number of wives. This marriage can take place only between consensual Muslim adults who have reached puberty and are of sound mind. They should not be in an unrestricted degree of relationship, and the guardian cannot force children to join into muta marriage.
The children born from such marriages are lawful and have the right to inherit from both parents, such a husband and wife, however, will have no common claim to the inheritance. Divorce is not permitted in the muta type of marriage. The marriage is dissolved at the end of the specified time period. If the marriage is consummated, the woman is entitled to a full dower; otherwise, she is entitled to a half dower.
If the marriage ends before the set term and the woman walks out, the wife is entitled to the sum for which she resided with the husband. If the husband walks out of the marriage before the specified term, he may give a gift of the unexpired period to the wife, which is known as hiba-i-muddat. Observance of iddat is of just as importance in muta marriage.
To safely conclude, the legal status of the marriage depends upon the conditions of the marriage and whether they are essentially fulfilled. The valid marriages have wholesome legal status, thus creating the mutual right of inheritance of the husband and wife on each other, although if the marriage is void in nature, then even if the marriage has been consummated, the wife would not be entitled to the dower money, and the child would be rendered illegitimate according to the personal laws.
In addition to that, there is also a concept of temporary marriages, called muta marriage. the word muta literally means “enjoyment or use”. Such marriages are contracted for pleasure. Although the dower and the duration of the marriage should be specified. The wife may not have any legal status in the marriage, but the children born out of such marriage are considered legitimate. Such marriages automatically dissolve after the expiration of the time period of the marriage. the legality of a marriage is of the utmost importance to produce the rights and obligations in the marriage.
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