In Pakistani law, as in many other legal systems influenced by Islamic principles, the concepts of dower (“Mahr” in Islamic law) and dowry are distinct, each serving a different purpose and legal significance:

  1. Dower (Mahr):
    • Definition: Dower, or Mahr, is a mandatory payment in the form of money or possessions paid or promised to be paid by the groom to the bride at the time of marriage. It is an integral part of a Muslim marriage contract.
    • Legal Basis: The concept of Mahr is deeply rooted in Islamic law and is considered a right of the wife.
    • Purpose: It serves as a form of security for the wife and is her exclusive property. It underscores the husband’s financial responsibility towards his wife.
    • When Due: The Mahr can be specified either at the time of the marriage or at a later date. It is typically divided into two parts: a prompt portion (paid at the time of marriage) and a deferred portion (paid at a later stage or upon the dissolution of the marriage through death or divorce).
  2. Dowry:
    • Definition: Dowry, in the South Asian context, refers to the goods, money, or property that a bride brings to her husband’s house at the time of her marriage.
    • Legal Basis: Dowry does not have a basis in Islamic law and is more of a cultural practice. In Pakistan, the Dowry and Bridal Gifts (Restriction) Act of 1976 and subsequent amendments aim to restrict and regulate the practice of giving and receiving dowry.
    • Purpose: Traditionally, it has been viewed as a way for the bride’s family to contribute to the establishment of the newlyweds’ household. However, it has been criticized for leading to social issues, including financial pressure on the bride’s family and, in extreme cases, dowry-related harassment.
    • When Given: Dowry is typically given at the time of marriage.

In summary, in Pakistani law, dower (Mahr) is a religious and legal obligation on the husband, intended to provide financial security to the wife. In contrast, dowry is a cultural practice that involves the bride’s family providing goods or money to the groom’s family, regulated by law due to its potential for abuse.

Legal Note on Return of Dower


The cases cited pertain to the legal considerations surrounding the return of dower (Mahr) in the context of dissolution of marriage, specifically under the Islamic law and family law in Pakistan. They highlight the conditions, legal interpretations, and judicial approaches in disputes involving dower.

Key Legal Provisions

  1. Ss. 5, Sched. & 10(5) of Family Laws: These sections deal with the dissolution of marriage and the return of dower.
  2. Family Courts Rules, 1965, Rr. 16 & 17: These rules guide the execution of orders related to family court decrees, including those involving dower.
  3. Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act (VIII of 1939), S. 2(viii): This act provides grounds for the dissolution of a Muslim marriage, including the return of dower.
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Case Summaries and Legal Implications


  • Facts: Dispute over the return of Zar-e-Khula in a marriage dissolution case.
  • Legal Principle: The return of dower is contingent upon its status (paid, retained, or taken back).
  • Implication: Judicial scrutiny of evidence is critical in determining the actual status of dower in marriage dissolution cases.


  • Facts: Execution petition for recovery of Zar-e-Khulla.
  • Legal Principle: The decree for dissolution of marriage subject to return of dower is executable.
  • Implication: Legal mechanisms ensure the enforceability of conditions attached to marriage dissolution.


  • Facts: Modification of Trial Court’s judgment in a Khula case.
  • Legal Principle: Relief beyond pleadings is not permissible.
  • Implication: Courts are bound by the scope of original pleadings and cannot grant relief beyond what is sought.


  • Facts: Cases involving divorce on the basis of khula.
  • Legal Principle: The court may refuse the return of prompt dower if the husband compels the wife to seek khula.
  • Implication: Judicial discretion is exercised in assessing the conduct of parties in khula cases.


  • Facts: Multiple scenarios involving the return of dower in khula cases.
  • Legal Principle: The return of dower is mandatory in khula cases, but the court can exercise discretion in specific circumstances.
  • Implication: The legal framework provides flexibility while ensuring fairness in the return of dower.


  • Facts: Suit for recovery of deferred dower post-divorce.
  • Legal Principle: Entitlement to full dower depends on the consummation of marriage.
  • Implication: Islamic principles guide the determination of dower entitlement in divorce cases.


  • Facts: Appeal involving multiple family law matters including dower.
  • Legal Principle: The court can dissolve a marriage on the ground of non-maintenance, impacting dower entitlement.
  • Implication: The conduct of parties, especially regarding maintenance and cruelty, influences the outcome of dower-related disputes.


  • Facts: Appeal in a marriage dissolution case involving dower, maintenance, and ornaments.
  • Legal Principle: Cruelty can be physical or mental and impacts the obligations regarding dower.
  • Implication: The court’s decision on dower may consider the husband’s conduct, including failure to maintain and cruelty.


  • Facts: Recovery of prompt dower and limitation issues.
  • Legal Principle: There is a three-year limitation for filing a suit for recovery of prompt dower.
  • Implication: Timeliness is critical in dower recovery cases, with specific limitations applicable under Islamic Law.
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  • Facts: Dissolution of marriage on the basis of Khula and return of dower.
  • Legal Principle: The surrender of dower in Khula cases is discretionary, not mandatory.
  • Implication: Courts have discretion in determining whether and how much dower should be returned in Khula cases.


  • Facts: Appeal challenging decision on dower and maintenance.
  • Legal Principle: Proper evidence is crucial for claims regarding dower.
  • Implication: Claimants must provide convincing evidence to support their claims of dower payment or entitlement.


  • Facts: Multiple appeals in a case involving dissolution of marriage, dower, and custody.
  • Legal Principle: Appeals must be filed within specified time limits; cruelty impacts the dissolution of marriage and dower claims.
  • Implication: Timeliness in filing appeals is crucial, and evidence of cruelty can influence dower-related decisions.


  • Facts: Khula dissolution and return of gold ornaments as dower.
  • Legal Principle: Gifts given during marriage, distinct from dower, may not be reclaimable.
  • Implication: Distinguishing between dower and gifts is important in determining what should be returned.


  • Facts: Dispute over gold ornaments as dower.
  • Legal Principle: Evidence, including witness testimony, is crucial in disputes over dower.
  • Implication: Parties must provide compelling evidence to support their stance in dower disputes.


  • Facts: Recovery of maintenance, dower, and dowry articles.
  • Legal Principle: The burden of proof lies on the claimant to demonstrate dower payment or retention.
  • Implication: Evidentiary standards are stringent in cases involving claims of unpaid or snatched dower.

Legal Note on Return of Dowry Articles


The cases cited involve various legal aspects related to the return of dowry articles in the context of family law disputes in Pakistan. They highlight the legal framework, evidentiary requirements, and judicial approaches in cases concerning the recovery of dowry items.

Key Legal Provisions

  1. S. 5 & Sched. of Family Laws: These sections typically relate to the recovery of dowry articles and maintenance issues in family law.
  2. Penal Code (XLV of 1860), Ss. 380 & 452: These sections deal with theft and house-trespass, relevant in cases where dowry articles are unlawfully retained or stolen.
  3. Constitution of Pakistan, Art. 185(3): This article allows for certain appeals to the Supreme Court, including those related to dowry disputes.
  4. Oaths Act (X of 1873), S. 11: This act provides for special oaths in legal proceedings, which can be pivotal in dowry-related cases.

Case Summaries and Legal Implications


  • Facts: The appellant challenged the decrees for maintenance and recovery of dowry articles.
  • Legal Principle: Evidence and burden of proof are crucial. The respondent successfully proved her claim through witnesses and documentary evidence.
  • Implication: Solid evidence, including documentary proof, is vital in establishing the possession and rightful ownership of dowry articles.
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  • Facts: The accused was granted pre-arrest bail in a case involving stealing household articles.
  • Legal Principle: The presence of mala fide and ulterior motives in the complainant’s actions can influence judicial decisions regarding bail.
  • Implication: The context of family disputes, such as dowry recovery, can impact related criminal proceedings.


  • Facts: A premeditated murder case linked to the recovery of dowry articles.
  • Legal Principle: The case underscores the gravity and potential violence associated with dowry disputes.
  • Implication: Dowry disputes can escalate to serious criminal offenses, necessitating prompt and just legal intervention.


  • Facts: The wife took a special oath regarding dower and dowry articles.
  • Legal Principle: Special oaths, when accepted, are binding and have significant legal implications.
  • Implication: Offers to be bound by oath in dowry disputes carry considerable weight in judicial determinations.


  • Facts: A suit for the recovery of dowry articles and maintenance.
  • Legal Principle: Presentation of credible evidence, like gold receipts, is essential in proving the existence and ownership of dowry articles.
  • Implication: Courts rely heavily on documentary evidence in adjudicating dowry recovery suits.


  • Facts: Dispute over missing dowry articles.
  • Legal Principle: The burden of proof lies on the claimant to convincingly demonstrate the existence and wrongful retention of dowry articles.
  • Implication: Mere allegations without supporting evidence are insufficient in dowry recovery claims.


  • Facts: A case involving claims for dower, past maintenance, and dowry articles.
  • Legal Principle: Evidence like original Nikahnama, witness testimony, and cross-examination findings are critical.
  • Implication: The burden of proof in establishing dower claims and entitlement to past maintenance is stringent.


  • Facts: Suit for recovery of dowry articles, considering appreciation and depreciation in value.
  • Legal Principle: The valuation of dowry articles must consider current market values, taking into account depreciation or appreciation.
  • Implication: Courts consider the present value of dowry articles, reflecting fair market conditions.


These cases illustrate the complexities involved in the recovery of dowry articles in Pakistan’s legal system. The courts emphasize the importance of substantial evidence, the credibility of witnesses, and the relevance of legal provisions in determining the rightful ownership and return of dowry articles. The cases also highlight the potentially serious consequences of disputes over dowry, ranging from criminal liability to serious violent offenses.

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