News > Indian News

'Not Charity, Right': Supreme Court's Big Alimony Order For Muslim Women

New Delhi:  A divorced Muslim woman can seek alimony from her husband under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure - the law related to maintenance for wives - the Supreme Court ruled today. The big judgment came as a bench of Justice BV Nagarathna and Justice Augustine George Masih dismissed a Muslim man's petition challenging a direction to pay his wife maintenance after divorce. 

"We are hereby dismissing the criminal appeal with the major conclusion that Section 125 would be applicable to all women and not just married women," Justice Nagarathna said. Justice Nagarathna and Justice Masih delivered separate, but concurrent, judgments.

The bench made it clear that the law for seeking maintenance applies to all married women, irrespective of their religion.

Section 125 broadly says a person with sufficient means cannot deny maintenance to their wife, children or parents. 

Maintenance is not a matter of charity but a fundamental right of married women, the court said. "This right transcends religious boundaries, reinforcing the principle of gender equality and financial security for all married women," it added.

"Some husbands are not conscious of the fact that the wife, who is a homemaker, is dependent on them emotionally and in other ways. Time has come for Indian men to recognise the indispensable role and sacrifices made by housewives for the family."

Rekha Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission for Women, has welcomed the judgment. "NCW Chairperson, Ms. Rekha Sharma, wholeheartedly welcomes the Supreme Court's landmark ruling affirming the right of Muslim women to seek maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC. This decision is a significant step towards gender equality and justice for all women," the panel said in a post on X.

The Case, The Arguments

The landmark judgment has come on a petition by Mohd Abdul Samad, who was directed by a family court to pay a monthly allowance of ₹ 20,000 to his divorced wife. Mr Samad challenged the direction in Telangana High Court. The high court upheld the direction to pay maintenance, but modified the amount to ₹ 10,000. He then moved the Supreme Court. His counsel argued that divorced Muslim women can seek recourse to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 Act and stressed that it provides much more than what Section 125 CrPC does. He also argued that a special law -- referring to the Act -- shall prevail over a general law.

Amicus Curiae Gaurav Agarwal countered that the personal law does not take away a woman's entitlement to relief under the gender-neutral CrPC.

The History, The Significance

To understand the significance of this judgment, there is a need to go back to the Shah Bano case in 1985. In this landmark verdict, the Supreme Court had ruled that Section 125 of CrPC applies to everyone, irrespective of their religion. This was, however, diluted by the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, that stated that the Muslim woman can seek maintenance only during iddat -- 90 days after the divorce.

In 2001, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of the 1986 Act, but ruled that the obligation of a man to provide maintenance to his divorced wife extends till she remarries or is able to support herself. Today's order further consolidates a divorced woman's order to seek alimony under CrPC, irrespective of her religion.

Source: NDTV

indian mirror



Article comments

Leave a Reply