Mohd. Ahmed Khan v Shah Bano Begum

 

  • The husband (appellant) was married to the wife (respondent) in 1932. In 1975 the husband drove the wife out of the matrimonial home; in 1978, the wife filed a petition against the husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 in the court of the learned Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Indore asking for maintenance at the rate of Rs. 500 per month.
  • On November 6, 1978 the husband divorced wife by an irrevocable talaq. His defense to the respondent’s petition for maintenance was that she had ceased to be his wife by reason of the divorce granted by him, to provide that he was therefore under no obligation maintenance for her, that he had already paid maintenance to her at the rate of Rs. 200 per month for about two years and that, he had deposited a sum of Rs. 3000 in the court by way of dower during the period the of iddat.
  • In August, 1979 the learned Magistrate directed appellant to pay a princely sum of Rs. 25 per month to the respondent by way of maintenance. In July, 1980 in a revisional application filed by the respondent, the High court of Madhya Pradesh enhanced the amount of maintenance to Rs. 179.20 per month.
  • The husband has filed this appeal by special leave before the Supreme Court.

Legal Questions

(i) Whether the payment of mehar by the husband on divorce is sufficient to absolve him of any duty to pay maintenance to the wife.

(ii) Whether Muslim Personal Law imposes no obligation upon the husband to provide for the maintenance of a divorced wife.

(iii) Whether Section 125 of the Code applies to Muslims.

(iv) Whether Section 125 would prevail over the personal law of the parties, in cases where they are in conflict.

(v) Whether there is any conflict between the provisions of Section 125 and those of the Muslim Personal Law on the liability of the Muslim husband to provide for the maintenance of his divorced wife.

Conclusion

Dismissing the appeal, the Court held:

(i) The payment of meharby the husband on divorce is not sufficient to absolve him of the duty to pay maintenance to the wife.

(ii) The liability of the husband to pay maintenance to the wife extends beyond the iddat period if the wife does not have sufficient means to maintain herself.

(iii) Section 125 of the Code applies to all citizens irrespective of their religion.

(iv) Section 125 overrides the personal law, if is any there conflict between the two.

(v) There is no conflict between the provisions of Section 125 and those of the Muslim Personal Law on the question of the Muslim husband’s obligation to provide maintenance for a divorced wife who is unable to maintain herself.

Click here to download the extensive version of Maintenance payable to a divorced Muslim woman –  Shah BanoZina

 

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