Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum & Ors.

Background

The answer to the issue "Who can Claim Maintenance?" is dealt with under Section 125(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

His wife is a legal or illegitimate minor child from his father, legal or illegitimate minor child (physical or mental abnormalities) from his father, and father or mother from his son or daughter.

The following are the necessary conditions for granting maintenance:


• There are sufficient resources for maintenance (the person who has to give the maintenance should have the means to give the same).

• After a demand for maintenance has been made, there is a lack of maintenance or a refusal to maintain ( if the person defaults or omits to provide maintenance or if he denies his obligation of maintaining then it amounts to neglect or refusal respectively).

• The person requesting maintenance must be unable to support themselves (only if the person is unable to maintain themselves).

• Maintenance quantity (depends on the standard of living).



Fact

Mohd Ahmed Khan (the appealing party), a lawyer by profession, married Shah Bano Begum (the respondent) in 1932 and the couple had three sons and two daughters. Shah Bano was shunned by her husband and sent out of her marital house with her children when she was 62 years old in 1975. In 1978, she filed an appeal in front of the Judicial Magistrate of Indore, claiming that she had been deprived of the Rs. 200 per month maintenance that he had promised to furnish. She requested maintenance of Rs. 500 per

month. On November 6th, 1978, the husband granted her an irrevocable triple talaq and used that as a justification for not paying support. In August 1979, the magistrate ordered the husband to pay a total of Rs 25 per month in maintenance. In July 1908, Shah Bano petitioned the High Court of M.P. to raise the amount of maintenance to Rs. 179 per month and the high court agreed, and the maintenance was increased to the amount requested, i.e. Rs. 179 per month. The ruling of the High Court was contested by the spouse in the Supreme Court as a special leave petition.


Issue

• Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974). Is a divorced Muslim lady included in the "WIFE" definition?


• Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974). Is it possible that it will take precedence over personal law?

• Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974). Is there a problem between section 125 and Muslim Personal Law when it comes to a Muslim husband's need to give maintenance for a divorced wife?

• Section 127(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974). (b). What is the divorce settlement? Isn't it true that the meaning of Mehar, or dower, isn't totaled up and paid out on divorce?



Judgment

The judgment was delivered by C.J. Y.C Chandrachud, and Mohd. Ahmed Khan's appeal was dismissed.

According to the Supreme Court, Section 125(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to all citizens regardless of religion, and so Section 125(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to Muslims without prejudice. The court went on to say that if there is a dispute between the two, Section 125 takes precedence. It makes it plain that the provisions of Section 125 and the Muslim Personal Law do not conflict when it comes to the Muslim husband's obligation to give maintenance for a divorced wife who is unable to support herself.


Because a Muslim husband's obligation to his divorced wife is limited to the degree of " Iddat," even though this situation does not contemplate the rule of law stated in Section 125 of the CrPc., 1973, the husband's obligation to pay maintenance to the wife extends beyond the iddat period if the wife does not have sufficient means to maintain herself, the Supreme Court correctly held in this case. The court went on to state that this requirement was against humanity or improper under Muslim law because a divorced woman could not sustain herself.

The husband's payment of Mehar upon divorce is inadequate to free him of his obligation to provide maintenance to his wife.


After a lengthy legal battle, the Supreme Court finally decided that if a divorced wife is competent to care for herself, the husbands' legal obligation ends. However, if the wife is unable to support herself after the Iddat period, she will be entitled to maintenance or alimony under Section 125 of the CrPC.



This article is written by POOJA BISHT of Fairfield Institute of Management & Technology.

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