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Divorced Muslim Woman Entitled to Maintenance Under Section 125 of the CrPC: Supreme Court

Supreme Court of India upholds right to support beyond personal law provisions

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 10, 2024, 12:40:41

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The Indian Supreme Court ruled that a divorced Muslim woman can file a claim for maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against her former husband.

A bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih gave separate but concurring judgments. They upheld the Muslim woman's right after a Muslim man (the petitioner) challenged a Telangana High Court order to pay ₹10,000 interim maintenance to his former wife.

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

The Court also ruled that if a Muslim woman gets divorced during the pendency of an application under Section 125 of CrPC, she can seek recourse under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019.

The 2019 Act provides an additional remedy besides the one under Section 125 CrPC, the Court added.
In a landmark judgment in the Shah Bano case, the Supreme Court had previously held that Section 125 CrPC is a secular provision applicable to Muslim women too.

However, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 nullified this judgment, and its validity was upheld in 2001.

The petition before the top court raised concerns over the respondent, a Muslim woman who was the petitioner's wife before their divorce, filing a claims plea under Section 125 CrPC.

The issue originated from a Family Court order directing the petitioner to pay interim maintenance of ₹20,000 per month.
This was challenged before the High Court on the grounds that the couple had divorced according to Muslim personal law in 2017.

The High Court modified the maintenance to ₹10,000 per month and instructed the Family Court to resolve the case within six months.

The man's counsel argued that under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, a divorced Muslim woman is not entitled to claim benefits under Section 125 CrPC.

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

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