Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum and Ors

Latest News
  • PETITIONER: MOHD. AHMED KHAN
  • RESPONDENT: SHAH BANO BEGUM AND ORS.
  • Bench: Chandrachud, Y.V. ((Cj), Desai, D.A., Reddy,O.Chinnappa(J), Venkataramiah, E.S. (J), Misra Rangnath
  • DATE OF JUDGMENT: 23/04/1985
  • EQUIVALENT CITATIONS: 1985 AIR 945, 1985 SCR (3) 844
  • ACT:

Muslim Personal Law-Concept of divorce-Whether, on the pronouncements of “talaq” and on the expiry of the period of iddat a divorced wife ceases to be a wife.

Sections 125(1) (a) and Explanation (b) Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

Section 125 (3) and the Explanation, under the proviso thereto Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

Section 127 (3) (b), Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

Facts

  • The appellant. who is an advocate by profession was married to the respondent in 1932. Three ions and two daughters were born of that marriage. In 1975, the appellant drove the respondent out of the matrimonial home.
  • In April 1978, a 62-year-old Muslim woman filed a petition in court demanding alimony or maintenance from her divorced husband Mohammed Ahmad Khan under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate (First class) Indore.
  • On November 6, 1978, the appellant divorced the respondent by an irrevocable “talaq” and took up the defence that she had ceased to be his wife by reason of the divorce granted by him; that he was, therefore, under no obligation to provide maintenance for her.

Issues before the Hon’ble Court

  • Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974), Section 125. Whether the “WIFE” definition includes a divorced Muslim woman?
  • Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974), Section 125. Whether it overrides personal law?
  • Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974), Section 125. Whether a Muslim husband’s obligation to provide maintenance for a divorced wife is in or not in the conflict between section 125 and Muslim Personal Law? 
  • Criminal Procedure Code (II of 1974), Section 127(3) (b). What is the sum payable on divorce? The meaning of Mehar or dower is not summed payable on divorce?

District Court held that:

The Magistrate directed the appellant to pay a princely sum of Rs. 25 per month to the respondent by way of maintenance.

The respondent filed an revisional application to the high court.

High Court held that:

In a revisional application led by the respondent the High Court of Madhya Pradesh enhanced the amount of maintenance to Rs. 179.20 per month.

Supreme Court held that:

 On 3rd Feb. 1981, Supreme Court gave a like-minded conclusion in this case and banished the plea of Mohd. Ahmad Khan and validate the verdict of High Court. The Supreme Court held that:

  • Section of the code applies to all citizens independent of their religion and consequently Section 125(3) of Code of Criminal Procedure is pertinent to Muslims as well, without any sort of discrimination. The court further stated that Section 125 overrides the personal law if there is any conflict between the two it makes clear that there’s no strife between the provisions of Section 125 and those of the Muslim Personal Law on the address of the Muslim husband’s obligation to provide maintenance for a divorced wife who is incapable to maintain herself.
  • Supreme Court in this case duly held that since the obligation of Muslim husband towards her divorced wife is restricted to the degree of ” Iddat” period, indeed though this circumstance does not contemplate the rule of law that’s said in Section 125 of CrPc., 1973 and subsequently the obligation of the husband to pay maintenance to the wife extends beyond the iddat period in the event that the wife does not have sufficient means to maintain herself. It was further stated by the court that this rule according to Muslim Law was against humanity or was wrong because here a divorced wife was not in a condition to maintain herself.
  • After a long court procedure, the Supreme Court finally concluded that the husbands’ legal liability will come to an end if a divorced wife is competent to maintain herself. But this situation will be switched in the case when the wife isn’t able in a condition to maintain herself after the Iddat period, she will be entitled to get maintenance or alimony under Section 125 of CrPC.
  •  But this situation will be reversed in the case when wife is not able in a condition to to finance or maintain herself after the Iddat period, she will be entitle to receive maintenance or alimony under Section 125 of CrPc.

(Author: Rajat Kumar, pursuing B.Com LLB from Rayat Bahra University, Mohali.)