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10-July-2024-Editorial

July 10 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

SC UPHOLDS MUSLIM WOMEN’S RIGHT TO SEEK MAINTENANCE

The Supreme Court of India, in the case of Mohd Abdul Samad v. State of Telangana (2024), dismissed a petition challenging the applicability of Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to a divorced Muslim woman.

This case highlights the ongoing legal discourse around the maintenance rights of divorced Muslim women in India.

Background of the Petition

  • Petition Filed: A Muslim man challenged a direction to pay interim maintenance to his divorced wife under Section 125 CrPC.
  • Petitioner’s Argument: The petitioner contended that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, should override Section 125 CrPC.
  • Special Law vs. General Law: The petitioner argued that the 1986 Act, being a special law, provides more comprehensive maintenance provisions and should take precedence over Section 125 CrPC.
  • Jurisdiction Issues: The petitioner insisted that family courts lack jurisdiction as the 1986 Act mandates First Class Magistrates to handle issues of Maher and subsistence allowances.
  • Non-Obstante Clause: Sections 3 and 4 of the 1986 Act, with a non-obstante clause, empower Magistrates to decide matters of Maher and subsistence allowances, barring the applicability of Section 125 CrPC.
  • Affidavit Requirement: The petitioner noted the wife’s failure to submit an affidavit opting for CrPC provisions over the 1986 Act, as required by Section 5.

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986

  • Purpose: Enacted to protect the rights of Muslim women who have been divorced by, or have obtained a divorce from, their husbands.
  • Response to Shah Bano Case: The Act was a response to the 1985 Shah Bano case, where the Supreme Court ruled that Section 125 CrPC is a secular provision applicable to all, irrespective of religion.
  • Provisions:
  • Maintenance During Iddat: During the iddat period, typically three months following a divorce, a Muslim woman is entitled to receive fair and reasonable provision and maintenance from her ex-husband.
  • Mahr and Property: The Act covers the payment of mahr (mandatory gift given by the husband at the wedding) and the return of properties given to the woman at the time of marriage.
  • Option to Choose CrPC Provisions: The Act allows a divorced woman and her former husband to opt for the provisions of Sections 125 to 128 of the CrPC if they declare this choice at the first hearing of the application.
  • Evolution:
  • Danial Latifi Case (2001): The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the 1986 Act, extending maintenance rights of Muslim women until they remarry beyond the iddat period.
  • Shabana Bano Case (2009): The Supreme Court reaffirmed that divorced Muslim women could claim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC beyond the iddat period, as long as they do not remarry.

Section 125 of the CrPC

  • Mandate: A Magistrate of the first class may order a person with sufficient means to provide a monthly allowance for the maintenance of:
  • Wife: If she is unable to maintain herself.
  • Minor Child: Whether legitimate or illegitimate, married or not, unable to maintain itself.
  • Adult Child: With physical or mental abnormalities or injuries rendering them unable to maintain themselves.
  • Parents: If they are unable to maintain themselves.

Supreme Court Observations

  • Universal Applicability: The Supreme Court held that Section 125 CrPC applies to all women, not just married women, and emphasized its universal application.
  • Rights of Divorced Muslim Women: The judgment reaffirms that divorced Muslim women can claim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, ensuring legal parity and safeguarding constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination.
  • Dismissal of Appeal: The Court dismissed the appeal, reaffirming that Muslim women can seek maintenance under Section 125 CrPC despite the existence of the 1986 Act.
  • Non-Obstante Clause: The Court noted that Section 3 of the 1986 Act, starting with a non-obstante clause, does not restrict the application of Section 125 CrPC but provides an additional remedy.
  • Triple Talaq: The Court affirmed that divorced Muslim women, including those divorced through triple talaq (now deemed illegal), can claim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC irrespective of personal laws.
  • Triple Talaq Law: Triple talaq has been declared void by the Supreme Court and criminalized by the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019.

Conclusion

The case of Mohd Abdul Samad v. State of Telangana (2024) underscores the Supreme Court’s commitment to ensuring that the maintenance rights of divorced Muslim women are protected under Section 125 CrPC.

The judgment highlights the balance between personal laws and secular laws, reinforcing the principle of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Through this case, the Supreme Court has reiterated the importance of legal safeguards for divorced women, ensuring their right to maintenance and promoting gender justice.

Details

Date:
July 10
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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