Supreme Court on rights of Hindu Muslim Interfaith Children

The Supreme Court of India, in the case of Mohammed Salim vs Shamsudeen[1], has finalised the views of a number of High Courts by ruling that a child born out of the marriage of a Muslim man and Hindu woman is legitimate and the child is entitled to inherit the property of the father.

This is a very significant judgment in the current socio-cultural milieu, even though inter-faith marriages are still deeply frowned upon.

Inheritance Rights of a Child Born Out of an Irregular Marriage under Muslim Personal Laws

All matters (except those relating to agricultural land) with respect to intestate succession, special property of females, including personal property inherited or obtained under contract or gift or any other provision of personal law, marriage, dissolution of marriage, maintenance, dower, gifts etc., of Muslim followers are governed by the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 (Shariat).  Shariat extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir. 
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Photo credit: Indian Express, August 23, 2017

Through its historic ruling delivered by a five-judge bench in the case of Shayara Bano and Ors v. Union of India on August 22nd 2017, the Supreme Court of India (SC) liberated Muslim women from the perpetual fear of arbitrary and whimsical divorce. The SC banned the regressive practice of instant ‘triple talaq’, which allowed Muslim men to unilaterally end their marriages simply by uttering the word “talaq” thrice without making any provision for maintenance or alimony. These often happened on the flimsiest of grounds, if any, which left the women at a serious and grave disadvantage.

The long-standing battle to get triple talaq abolished gained renewed momentum in October 2015, when the SC decided to look into the matter of Muslim women facing gender-based discrimination within the community. A Constitutional Bench of the SC was set up to examine if Muslim women face gender discrimination in divorce cases.


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