Hindu Bride Cannot Inherit Muslim Groom’s Property: SC
A marriage of a Hindu woman with a Muslim man is not "regular or valid", but the child born out of such wedlock is legitimate, the Supreme Court has ruled. In such cases, the wife cannot inherit the property of her husband while she is entitled to dower, the SC said while delivering its verdict in a case on January 22.
The court, however, held that the child born out of an “irregular marriage” was legitimate and was entitled to inherit the property of its father.
The SC upheld an order of the Kerala High Court by which the latter ruled that the son of a couple, Mohammed Ilias and Valliamma, was legitimate and was entitled to a share in his father's property.
Shamsuddin, the son of Ilias and Valliamma, claimed his share in the ancestral property through inheritance after the death of his father. His claim was opposed by his cousins, who alleged that Shamsuddin’s mother was a Hindu by religion at the time of marriage and hence was not the legally wedded wife of his husband. This made the son an illegitimate offspring, they claimed.
"We conclude that the marriage of a Muslim man with an idolater or fire worshipper is neither valid nor void, but is merely an irregular marriage. Any child born out of such wedlock is entitled to claim a share in his father's property," the SC said.
“The legal effect of an irregular marriage is that in case of consummation, though the wife is entitled to get dower, she is not entitled to inherit the properties of the husband. But, the child born in that marriage is legitimate, just like in the case of a valid marriage, and is entitled to inherit the property of the father."
Under the Muslim law, a marriage is not a sacrament but a civil contract, and there are three types of marriage, valid, irregular and void.
"A void marriage is one which is unlawful in itself, the prohibition against such a marriage being perpetual and absolute. An invalid marriage is described as one which is not unlawful in itself, but unlawful for something else ... (like the absence of witnesses)," the SC said.
With inputs from Housing News