“Understand the Sacrifices of Wives”: Supreme Court Says Muslim Women Entitled to Maintenance After Divorce, Advises Indian Men

On Wednesday, July 10, the Supreme Court ruled that a Muslim woman is entitled to receive maintenance from her husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) even after divorce. The woman can file a petition for this purpose. 

A bench comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih issued this order while dismissing a petition by a Muslim man.

Justice Nagarathna: CrPC Section 125 Applicable to All Women, Not Just Married Ones

Justice Nagarathna stated, “We are dismissing the appeal with the conclusion that Section 125 of the CrPC applies not only to married women but to all women.” The bench inquired whether the petitioner had paid anything to his wife during the iddat period. 

In response, the petitioner mentioned that a draft of 15,000 rupees was offered, but his wife did not accept it.

Supreme Court Affirms Legal Right of Muslim Women to Maintenance Under CrPC Section 125

The Supreme Court stated that Muslim women can exercise their legal right to maintenance from their husbands. They can take relevant steps under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. 

The court emphasized in its decision that women have the right to maintenance, and religion should not obstruct such rights. The Supreme Court noted during the hearing that this section applies to all married women, regardless of their religion, thus including Muslim women as well.

Furthermore, the court suggested that a man should open a joint account with his housewife and provide her with an ATM card to assist with her financial needs. During the hearing on the legal rights of Muslim women to maintenance, the court remarked that it is time for Indian men to recognize the role and sacrifices of housewives for the family.

Understanding Section 125 of the CrPC

Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) provides for maintenance. According to this section, any individual who has sufficient means to support themselves cannot refuse to provide maintenance to their wife, children, and parents.

Definition of ‘Wife’ Under Section 125 of the CrPC

Under Section 125 of the CrPC, the term ‘wife’ can refer to a woman of any age, whether minor or adult. For the purposes of this section, a ‘wife’ means a legally married woman. The validity of a marriage is governed by personal laws. 

If the legality of the marriage is disputed, the petitioner must prove the marriage. Marriages conducted merely by exchanging garlands were declared invalid.

Three Reasons a Wife is Not Entitled to Maintenance

  • She is living with another partner.
  • She refuses to live with her husband without a valid reason.
  • The husband and wife are living separately by mutual consent.

Bombay High Court: Muslim Husband Must Support Divorced Wife for Life

In January this year, while hearing another case, the Bombay High Court stated that a Muslim husband must take responsibility for his divorced wife for her entire life. Even if the divorced Muslim woman remarries, she is still entitled to maintenance from her former husband under the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Divorce Act 1986 (MWPA).

According to the Times of India, Justice Rajesh Patil’s single bench noted that the fact of divorce is sufficient for the wife to claim maintenance under Section 3(1)(A). The court dismissed the husband’s challenge to two maintenance orders in favor of his ex-wife. The court ordered the husband to pay his ex-wife a maintenance amount of 900,000 rupees.

Supreme Court’s Previous Remarks on Homemakers

The Supreme Court has previously made similar remarks regarding homemakers. In February this year, during the hearing of a separate case, the Supreme Court commented on the importance of homemakers. 

The court stated that the role of a homemaker is just as important as that of an employed family member. The importance of a homemaker should never be underestimated.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.