The Shah Bano Case
The Shah Bano Case
Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum
Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum And Ors
Citation - 1985 SCR (3) 844
Decided - 23 April 1985
Bench - Chandrachud, Y.V. ((Cj),
Desai, D.A., Reddy,
O. Chinnappa (J),
Venkataramiah, E.S. (J),
shah bano begum case is a mile stone in personal law .the Muslim women"s search for justice and the beginning of the political battle over personal law. A 60-year-old woman went to court asking maintenance from her husband who had divorced her. The court ruled in her favour. Shah Bano was entitled to maintenance from her ex-husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (with an upper limit of Rs. 500 a month) like any other Indian woman. The judgment was not the first granting a divorced Muslim woman maintenance under Section 125. But a voluble orthodoxy deemed the verdict an attack on Islam.
The Congress Government, panicky in an elect
Under section 125(1) (a), if any person, having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain his wife, unable to maintain herself, a Magistrate of the first class may, upon proof of such neglect or refusal order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance of his wife at such monthly rate not exceeding five hundred rupees in the whole. Under Explanation (b) thereunder " wife" includes a woman who has been divorced by, or has obtained a divorce from her husband and has not remarried.
Under the explanation below sub section 3 of section 125, if a husband has contracted marriage with another woman or keeps a mistress it shall be considered to be a just ground for his wife"s refusal to live with him. Keeping this in view, if in the trial arising out of 845 an application made under section 125, and if the husband offers to maintain his wife on condition of living with him, the Magistrate may consider any of the grounds of the wife"s refusal to live with her husband before ordering the maintenance. Under section 127 (3) (b), the Magistrate shall cancel the order passed by him under section 125, in favour of a woman who has been divorced by, or has obtained a divorce from her husband if the woman who has been divorced by her husband has received, whether before or after the date of the said order, the whole of the sum, which, under any customary or personal law applicable to the parties was payable on such divorce.
The appellant. Who is an advocate by profession was married to the respondent in 1932. Three sons and two daughters were born of that marriage in 1975; the appellant drove the respondent out of the matrimonial home.
In April 1978, the respondent filed a petition against the appellant under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in the Court of the Judicial Magistrate (First class) Indore, asking for maintenance at the rate of Rs. 500 per month, in view of the professional income of the appellant which was about Rs. 60,000 per annum.On November 6, 1978 ,the appellant divorced the respondent by an irrevocable "talaq" and took up the defense 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; that he had already paid maintenance for her at the rate of Rs. 200 per month for about two years, and that, he had deposited a sum of Rs. 3,000 in the court by way of "dower or Mahr" during the period of "iddat". In August 1979, the Magistrate directed the appellant to pay a princely sum of Rs. 25 per month to the respondent by way of maintenance.
In a revisional application Sled by the respondent the High Court of Madhya Pradesh enhanced the amount of maintenance to Rs. 179.20 per month. Hence the appeal by special leaves by the husband.
The view taken in the earlier two three Judges" Benches of the Supreme Court presided over by Krishna Iyer, J. and reported in  2 SCR 75, and  3 SCR 1127, to the effect that section 125 of the Code applies to Muslims also and that therefore, the divorced Muslim wife is entitled to apply for maintenance was doubted, by the Bench consisting of Fazal Ali and Varadarajan, JJ., since in their opinion the said decisions required reconsideration by a larger Bench consisting of more than three judges as the decisions are not only in direct contravention of the plain and unambiguous language of section 127 (3) (b) of the Code which far from overriding the Muslim law on the subject protects and applies the same in case where a wife has been divorced by the husband and the dower specified has been paid and the period of iddat has been observed but also militates against the fundamental concept of divorce by the husband and its consequences under the Muslim law which has been expressly protected by section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat)
Application Act, 1937-an Act which was not noticed in the said two decisions.