Supreme Court takes stand against male-driven Nikah terms

The Supreme Court, in a recent ruling, acknowledged the practice of male family members deciding Nikah terms on behalf of brides as a cultural norm, but highlighted its potential to disadvantage brides in later marriage stages.

Justices Aminud Din Khan and Athar Minallah delivered the order in a case concerning a bride’s entitlement to a plot mentioned in the Nikahnama. The case stemmed from a Lahore High Court decision favoring Huma Saeed, who married Mohammad Yousaf in May 2014.

Yousaf, who divorced Saeed in October 2014, contested the decision, arguing that the mentioned plot wasn’t part of the dower or gift. However, the Supreme Court found that the plot, listed under ‘special conditions’ in column 17 of the Nikahnama, wasn’t explicitly designated as part of the dower, refuting Yousaf’s claims.

Justice Minallah emphasized the importance of a bride’s informed consent in determining Nikah terms and criticized the societal acceptance of male-dominated decision-making in this regard.

The ruling underscored the need for courts to interpret Nikahnama terms considering the bride’s freedom and understanding of her rights, with any ambiguity benefiting the wife if her lack of awareness of her rights is established.

Ultimately, the appeal was dismissed, affirming the Lahore High Court’s interpretation of the Nikahnama.

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