SC says Muslim women entitled to seek maintenance from spouse under section 125 of CrpC

The bench said maintenance is not charity but the right of married women and it is applicable to all married women irrespective of their religion.
The Court held that the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 do not override the secular law.
The Court held that the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 do not override the secular law.

NEW DELHI: In a significant decision, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a Muslim woman can seek maintenance from her husband under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), which is applicable to all married women irrespective of religion.

The two-judge Bench of the top court, led by Justice BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih, rejected the petition of one Mohd Abdul Samad challenging the Telangana High Court order to pay interim maintenance to his divorced wife.

"We are hereby dismissing the criminal appeal with the major conclusion that section 125 would be applicable to all women and not just married women," Justice Nagarathna said while pronouncing the verdict.

The Court held that the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 do not override the secular law.
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The bench said maintenance is not charity but the right of married women and it is applicable to all married women irrespective of their religion.

The Court held that the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 do not override the secular law.

He has contended that a divorced Muslim woman is not entitled for maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC and has to invoke the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

The bench clarified that if during the pendency of a petition under Section 125 of CrPC a Muslim woman is divorced, then she can take recourse to the Muslim women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019.The Bench stated that the remedy under the 2019 Act is in addition to the remedy under section 125 CrPC, according to the Live Law.

The Bar and Bench recalled that the Supreme Court had in a landmark judgment in the Shah Bano case held that Section 125 CrPC is a secular provision applicable to Muslim women too.

The same was however nullified by the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 and the validity of the law was upheld in 2001.

The petition, Bar and Bench added, before the top court has raised grievance over the filing of a claims plea under Section 125 of the CrPC by the respondent, a Muslim woman who was the wife of the petitioner before they got divorced.

The matter arose from a Family Court order that had directed the petitioner to pay interim maintenance of ₹20,000 per month.

This was was challenged before the High Court on the grounds that the couple had gotten divorced as per Muslim personal law in 2017.

The High Court modified the maintenance to ₹10,000 per month and directed the family court to dispose of the case within six months, Bar and Bench added.

The counsel appearing for the man submitted that in view of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, a divorced Muslim woman is not entitled to claim benefit under Section 125 CrPC.

Further, the 1986 Act is more beneficial to Muslim women, it was contended.

(With inputs from Express News Service & PTI)

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