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Divorced Muslim woman can claim maintenance under Section 125 CrPC: Supreme Court

Muslim Woman Supreme Court

Following its ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court granted Muslim women who had been divorced a right to petition their spouses for maintenance under Section 125 CrPC.

A divorced Muslim woman can claim maintenance. The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a divorced Muslim woman can file a claim for maintenance against her former husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), legal news website Bar and Bench reported.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, will not prevail over secular law, the Apex Court said. 

A bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Justice Augustine George Masih pronounced separate but concurring judgments upholding Muslim women’s rights after a Muslim man (petitioner) challenged a Telangana High Court direction to pay ₹10,000 interim maintenance to his former wife.

“We are hereby dismissing the criminal appeal with the major conclusion that Section 125 CrPC would be applicable to all women and not just married women,” Justice Nagarathna said, pronouncing the verdict.

The bench said maintenance is not charity but the right of married women and it is applicable to all married women irrespective of their religion.

Mohd Abdul Samad, who has challenged the order of the Telangana High Court refusing to interfere with the maintenance order of the family court. He has contended that a divorced Muslim woman is not entitled for maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC and has to invoke the provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, The Economic Times reported.

On December 13, 2023, the high court did not set aside the direction of the family court for payment of interim maintenance by Samad to his estranged wife but reduced the amount from Rs 20,000 to Rs 10,000 per month, to be paid from the date of the petition.

The petition before the top court has raised a grievance over the filing of a claims plea under Section 125 of the CrPC by the respondent, a Muslim woman who was the wife of the petitioner before they got divorced.

The matter arose from a Family Court order that had directed the petitioner to pay interim maintenance of ₹20,000 per month.

This was challenged before the High Court on the grounds that the couple had gotten divorced as per Muslim personal law in 2017.

The High Court modified the maintenance to ₹10,000 per month and directed the family court to dispose of the case within six months.

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