Home India News The Supreme Court has ruled that divorced Muslim women can seek maintenance from their ex-husbands under CrPC.

The Supreme Court has ruled that divorced Muslim women can seek maintenance from their ex-husbands under CrPC.

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In separate but concurrent judgments, the Supreme Court bench of Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Augustine George Masih upheld a Muslim woman’s rights following a challenge by a Muslim man against a Telangana High Court order directing him to pay ₹10,000 interim maintenance to his divorced wife.

The Supreme Court ruled that a divorced Muslim woman can seek maintenance from her former husband under Section 125 of the CrPC, despite the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. Justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih, in separate but concurrent judgments, affirmed the rights of a Muslim woman in response to a challenge by a petitioner against a Telangana High Court order directing payment of ₹10,000 interim maintenance to his divorced wife.

Muslim women
Image Source:Hindustan Times

Justice Nagarathna, delivering the verdict, announced the dismissal of the criminal appeal, emphasizing that Section 125 CrPC applies to all women, not just those who are married. The Supreme Court also ruled that if a Muslim woman obtains a divorce while her application under Section 125 CrPC is pending, she may seek relief under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019.

According to Bar and Bench, the Court noted that the 2019 Act offers an additional remedy alongside Section 125 CrPC. In a February 9 decision, the Court appointed senior counsel Gaurav Aggarwal as amicus curiae to address arguments claiming that a divorced Muslim woman cannot seek maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC, as it is overridden by the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

Section 125 of CrPc Vs 1986 Muslim Women Act

Section 125 of the CrPC requires individuals capable of providing support to maintain their wife, children (whether legitimate or illegitimate), and parents who cannot support themselves. The term ‘wife’ under this section encompasses a woman who has been divorced by or has obtained a divorce from her husband and has not remarried.

In contrast, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, is a law specific to the Muslim community, outlining procedures for Muslim women to seek maintenance during divorce. This Act was introduced to counter the Supreme Court’s 1985 ruling in the Shah Bano case, which affirmed that Section 125 CrPC applies universally, including to Muslim women.

Section 3 of the 1986 Act ensures that a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to maintenance from her former husband during the ‘iddat’ period, typically three months post-divorce, unless she remarries.

In 2001, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 1986 Act, granting Muslim women the right to maintenance until the completion of the ‘iddat’ period, despite reducing its duration.

In 2009, the Supreme Court reaffirmed a divorced Muslim woman’s entitlement to claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC until remarriage, extending beyond the ‘iddat’ period.

The Present Case

The case began when Abdul Samad’s wife approached a family court in Hyderabad in March 2019, alleging he had divorced her through triple talaq. She sought ₹50,000 monthly maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC.

In June 2023, the family court ordered Abdul Samad to pay interim maintenance of ₹20,000 per month. Abdul Samad challenged this order in the High Court, arguing that they had divorced under Muslim personal law in 2017. He also stated that he had already paid his former wife ₹15,000 as maintenance during the ‘iddat’ period.

In December 2023, the High Court reduced the monthly maintenance to ₹10,000 and instructed the family court to resolve the case within six months.

The petitioner’s counsel argued in the Supreme Court that, according to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, a divorced Muslim woman cannot avail benefits under Section 125 CrPC.

The case involved a man challenging the Telangana High Court’s order to pay his former wife Rs 10,000 as interim maintenance.

Initially, a Family Court had directed him to pay Rs 20,000 monthly interim maintenance, which he contested in the High Court citing their divorce under Muslim personal law in 2017. The High Court reduced the maintenance to Rs 10,000 per month and instructed the family court to resolve the case within six months.

The respondent, the man’s ex-wife, raised concerns in the Supreme Court regarding claims under Section 125 of the CrPC.

The man’s lawyer argued that under the Muslim Women Act 1986, a divorced woman cannot seek maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, emphasizing that the 1986 Act is more favorable to Muslim women.

Justices Nagarathna and Masih, in separate but concurrent judgments, affirmed the Muslim woman’s right to claim maintenance from her former husband and dismissed the man’s petition.

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