27th November 2006

AIDWA welcomes the model nikaahnama approved by the All India Shia Personal Law Board, reports of which suggest that the rights of Shia women are sought to be significantly enhanced.

It reiterates the important principle that the nikaahnaama is a contract to be drawn up by the two parties, and is justiciable in a Court of law.

While the document would have to be studied in detail, AIDWA welcomes the delegated right of divorce given to women in the nikaahnaama, and the extension of the grounds on which divorce can be applied for.

Secondly, reports state that the signing of a marriage agreement has been made mandatory, and the details about property, income, marriage status, educational qualifications etc. are to be registered. If the groom is found to have lied, this will be sufficient ground for the wife to move for a divorce. This is a positive feature.

Moreover, the recognition of the woman’s right to maintenance is also a vital right that has been included. It appears that custody of children and guardianship rights would also be vested with the mother. It is significant that the procedure for talaq seems to exclude the pronouncement of talaq in one sitting.

Some issues remain, such as a stronger position against dowry, and equitable distribution of marital assets.