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Divorced Muslim woman can claim maintenance from husband, says top court


Supreme Court says that Muslim Woman can file a petition for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC against her husband.

Supreme Court says that Muslim Woman can file a petition for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC against her husband. Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Augustine George Masih pronounced separate but concurrent judgment.

The Supreme Court delivered a significant ruling today, affirming the right of Muslim women to seek maintenance from their husbands under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih, comprising the bench, dismissed a petition challenging the payment of interim maintenance to a divorced Muslim woman by her former husband.

In their separate but concurring judgments, Justices Nagarathna and Masih upheld the entitlement of Muslim women to claim maintenance, despite objections raised under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act. This Act, passed in 1986, had previously been upheld in 2001, ostensibly to provide a framework specific to Muslim personal law.

Justice Nagarathna, in delivering the verdict, emphasized that Section 125 CrPC applies universally to all women, including those from the Muslim community. She clarified that if a Muslim woman initiates a maintenance claim under Section 125 CrPC and subsequently undergoes divorce, she retains the option to seek further relief under the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, which augments but does not supersede Section 125 CrPC.

The legal dispute arose from a lower court order requiring the petitioner, who had divorced his wife as per Muslim personal law in 2017, to pay ₹20,000 per month as interim maintenance. This directive was later modified by the High Court to ₹10,000 per month, mandating expedited resolution within six months.

The Supreme Court's ruling reiterates principles established in the landmark Shah Bano case, where it was affirmed that Section 125 CrPC applies universally, transcending religious boundaries to ensure equitable support for women in need. This decision underscores the judiciary's commitment to upholding gender equality and secular legal principles, ensuring that no woman, regardless of her religious background, is deprived of her right to maintenance under the law.