The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ruled that only Family Courts have the authority to punish men accused of marrying without the consent of their existing wife/wives.
The ruling came during the hearing of an appeal filed by a man who was sentenced to jail and financially penalized by a Judicial Magistrate after he was found guilty of marrying the second time without the consent of his first wife.
In a five-page judgment, LHC Judge, Justice Amjad Rafiq, noted that only Family Courts have the right to hear cases of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 under Section (20) of the Family Court Act of 1964.
Revoking the decision of the Judicial Magistrate, the judgment added that Judicial Magistrates are not authorized to hear such cases and those who do, violate the Sub-Section (2) of Article 175 of the 1973 Constitution.
Ishrat Rasool had moved to Civil Court against her husband Muzaffar Nawaz after she found that he married Sitara Jabeen on 17 May 2019 without seeking her permission.
She had filed the petition in the court under Section 6(5) of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, which states that:
A man is required to submit written permission from his existing wife/wives if he wishes to marry another woman. If the husband is found guilty of violating the law, he can face up to one year in prison.
A then-Judicial Magistrate handed Muzaffar a 3-month jail time and imposed a fine of Rs. 500,000 on him after he was found guilty of violating the law.
Muzaffar had challenged the decision in the LHC and today Justice Amjad Rafiq has annulled it.