The Madras High Court has ruled that Muslim women should approach only family courts and not private bodies like Shariat Council consisting of a few members of Jamaat in order to seek 'Khula' (divorce).
The court held that the Khula certificates issued by the private bodies are invalid in law.
A bench of Justice C. Shivaraman quashed a Khula certificate issued by the Shariat Council of Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamath, Chennai, and directed the estranged couple to approach a family court or the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority to resolve their disputes.
The judge issued the direction while hearing a petition of a man seeking the court quash the Khula certificate obtained by his wife from the Shariat Council in 2017.
The petitioner also contended that the Shariat Council, registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act, 1975, has no authority to issue such certificates. He also told the court that he had filed a petition restoring conjugal rights in 2017 and obtained an ex-parte decree also.
He said that a petition for executing the decree was pending before an additional family court judge.
The court heard the petitioner and the Shariat Council as the petitioner's wife chose to remain absent and did not appear in person or through counsel.
The judge further said that only a judicial forum was empowered to pass a decree to dissolve a marriage under Section 7(1)(b) of the Family Courts Act, 1984.
Justice Shivaraman also said that the Madras High Court in the Badar Sayeed versus Union of India (2017) case had restrained Khasis from issuing Khula certificates.