Under the Muslim Law, Mehr (dower) means money or property which the wife is entitled to receive from the husband in consideration of the marriage but this consideration is not the same as that of the civil contract.
Dower is an obligation imposed upon the husband and the object of the dower is to provide the wife for her subsistence after the dissolution of her marriage so that she may not become helpless after the death of the husband or termination of the marriage by divorce.
Mehr is also considered as the part of maintenance while fixing the amount of maintenance under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code,1973. Since there is no clear-cut definition as per Muslim Personal Laws regarding the dower (Mehr) amount, different High Courts and Supreme Court of India in different cases rendered different conceptions relating to Mehr.
Muslim law is a contract between the husband and wife. And Mehr is the amount of consideration paid to or promised to be paid to the wife. Just like a contract is declared invalid, in the event of non – payment of the consideration. A talaaq is also considered invalid if the Mehr amount is not paid.
A Mehr is a right of the married Muslim women and she can sue her husband if he refuses to pay her Mehr.
A Mehr is generally of two types –
Prompt Mehr: This means the total amount of Mehr payable by the Husband at the time of the signing of marriage contract.
Deferred Mehr: This means the portion of the Mehr which is payable to the wife at a specified point in the marriage or at the time of the dissolution of the marriage through divorce or death of the husband. Any deferred Mehr that remains unpaid at the time of dissolution becomes a debt against the former husband’s assets.
A wife may relinquish or remit her right to Mehr in favour of her husband. She may do so either out of natural love or to gain affection from her husband. This act is termed as remission of Mehr by the wife. The wife may remit the whole or only a part of her specified Mehr.
After a lawful remission, the husband is under no legal obligation to pay the remitted part of Mehr to the wife.