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Case Summary : Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum And Ors

Citation : 1985 AIR 945, 1985 SCR (3) 844

Bench: Y.V. Chandrachud, D.A Desai, O Reddy, Venkataramiah Chinnappa, Rangnath Misra

Facts –

The appellant married to the respondent in 1932 and five children were born out of the wedlock. The appellant drove the respondent out of matrimonial home in 1975. In April 1978, the respondent filed a petition against an appellant under section 125 Cr.P.C asking for maintenance at a rate of Rs 500 per month. In Nov 1978 , the appellant divorced respondent by pronouncing irrevocable talaq.

Issues to be determined –

1) whether the Muslim law limits the appellant’s liability to provide for maintenance of respondent for the period of iddat?

2) whether the dower paid to the divorcee would indemnify the appellant for his obligation under the provision of section 125 Cr. P. C?

In the Present case –

The divorced wife of the appellant, who had not remarried, was unable to maintain herself during her lifetime. Then, she is entitled to claim maintenance under the provisions of section 125 Cr. P. C The purpose of section 125 Cr. P. C is to prevent vagrancy and destitution of an individual. If she is able to maintain herself, then the appellant’s liability to provide maintenance ceased with the expiration of iddat period. But in the instant case, she is unable to maintain herself after the iddat period, she is entitled to have recourse to section 125 Cr. P. C therefore muslim law doesn’t limits the appellant’s liability to provide the maintenance after the iddat period.

Considering the second issue-

The Honourable court held that the dower does not fall within the meaning of the section 127(3)(ii) Cr. P. C   As dower is an amount which the wife is entitled to receive form the husband in consideration of marriage and not in consideration of divorce. It is an obligation inposed upon the husband as a mark of respect. Therefore , mahr is not the amount payable by the husband on divorce and it will not fall under the term “on divorce” under section 127(3) (ii) Cr. P. C

So, irrespective of the amount settled as dower, a reasonable amount is always due to a muslim wife for her maintenance.

Therefore, there is no conflict between the provisions of section 125 r/w section 127 CrPC and the Muslim law and the wife, who is unable to maintain herself and not remarried, is entitled to maintenance under the provisions of the secular act like CrPC.

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