Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act,1939

Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act,1939

Enforce on :- 17 March 1939

Purpose:- The act provides specifued grounds on the basis of which a muslim women can file or is entitled for the decree of divorce from the court 

No. Of sections:- the act contains five sections

  • SECTION 1: Deals with the definition and extent of the Act
  • SECTION 2 :Provides grounds for decree for dissolution of marriage. 
  • SECTION 3:Deals with the notice to be served on heirs of the husband, when the husband’s whereabouts are not known. 
  • SECTION 4:Deals with the effect of conversion to another faith by a married Muslim woman 
  • SECTION 5:It states that, ‘nothing contained in this Act shall affect any right which a married woman may have under Muslim Law to her dower or any part thereof on the dissolution of her marriage’.


Dissolution of Muslim marriage Act,1939  has been introduced with extended modes of grounds on the basis of which a muslim wife can get divorce from husband.

Before 1939 , there were few specified grounds such as on the false charges of adultery, insanity or impotency of the husband  on the basis of which a  muslim women can get decree of divorce from the court 

In the case of Md. Abdul Zalil Ahmed vs Mustt. Marina Begum on 16 July, 1998 it was held that The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939 was enacted with the object to ameliorate the lot of a Mohammedan wife and enlarge her right.

Grounds for dissolution of muslim marriage 

specified under section 2 of Dissolution of muslim marriage ,1939

  1. Absence of husband 
  2. Failure to provide maintenance 
  3. Imprisonment 
  4. failure to perform martial law 
  5. Impotency 
  6. Insanity
  7. Cruelty
  8. Reasonable grounds

1) Absence of husband

[Time period :-4 years]

After a muslim women married under muslim law shall be entitle to obtain decree of divorce from husband if it have not been know the whereabouts of husband for a period of four years.

In simple words, women can obtain a decree of divorce from court if after marriage husband is not living with her or absence of him as there is not any clue where the husband is for four years

Condition for husband :-

Notice will be served to the heirs of the husband as acting upon his absence .

If in case the husband comes back and appears either himself or through an agent within the period of 6 months after the decree passed and satisfied in the court that he is prepared to perform his conjugal duties then decree shall have no effect or be set aside by the court.

2) Failure to provide maintenance

[Time period :- Two years]

A muslim women can seek for a decree of divorce from court in case when his husband failed to provide maintaince to his wife  or have been neglected to perform his duty for a period of two years.


[Time period:- sentenced for a period of 7 years or upwards ]

When the husband has been sentenced for imperisonment for 7 years or more than a muslim women can get a decree of divorce from the court 


The sentence for imprisonment should be final than only the decree of divorce will be passed

4)Failure to perform marital Obligations

[Time period :- 3 years]

When a husband without any  reasonable cause failed to perform his maritial obligations to the marriage for a time period of three years than a muslim wife can file for a decree of divorce from the court

5) Impotency:

A muslim women is entitled for a decree of divorce if the husband is impotent at the time of marriage or continues to be same

In the case of Umamaheswari vs K. Babu on 21 July, 2005  it was stated while defining the meaning of impotency that As per the Law Lexicon Second Edition 1997, the meaning of impotency is stated as:- Incapacity for sexual intercourse.

In the case of Jagdish Kumar V. Sita Devi, AIR 1 963  it was stated through the meaning of IMPOTENCY as ‘ Impotency,’ as a cause for divorce, means an incurable defect, and not every temporary or occasional incapacity, but permanent and lasting inability for copulation and procreation. Incapacity for sexual intercourse is an essential ingredient of impotency. Such an inability may arise from a variety of causes including the mental and moral disability.

6) Insanity:

[Time period:- Two years]

When husband being insane or is suffering from leprosy or virulent veneral disease for a period of two years then it established basis on the grounds of  which a muslim woman can file a decree of divorce in court

7) Cruelty

wife can file for decree of divorce from her husband If the husband  has treated her with such cruelty, as to cause a reasonable apprehension in her mind that it will be harmful or injurious to live with her husband

For example 

  • Habitually assaults leads to miserable life 
  • Leads to infamous life or cause to her reputation
  • Cruelty forced her to live immoral life
  • Prevent her from performing her legal rights on the property
  • Husband has more than one wives and there is impartiality in accordance to Quran

7)Reasonable grounds

Any other grounds which satisfies court as a valid basis on which wife is entitled for decree and leads to dissolution of muslim marriage under 1939 Act

Effect of conversion to another faith

By a married Muslim woman”-

In case, the married Muslim women renunciate Islam and converts her faith to another religion than also she is having right and entitled for dissolution of marriage on the grounds specified under section 2 of dissolution of marriage act 1939

By a woman who adopts Islam faith 

The provision of the section 2 of dissolution of marriage act 1939 Are not applicable to the woman who converted to Islam from sone other religion faith.

For example:-

In case of Dr. Anamika Sharma vs Dr. Atif M Jalabneh on 1 August, 2008 it was stated that 

Reading the aforesaid section 4 of dissolution of marriage act 1939 and the proviso, it becomes clear that by virtue of the second proviso the bar of dissolution of marriage by apostasy from Islam by a Muslim woman is not applicable to a woman who had converted herself from another religion to Islam.

Author: Tanveen Kaur,
Chandigarh university/2 year/law student

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