‘Irrespective of religion’: SC says Muslim women can seek maintenance from husbands after divorce

NEW DELHI: In a historic ruling, the Supreme Court has declared that Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which deals with a wife’s right to maintenance, applies to all married women regardless of their religion. The decision affirms that Muslim women can also invoke this provision to seek maintenance after divorce.
The decision was pronounced by a bench comprising Justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih, who delivered separate but concurring judgments.
The case arose when a Muslim man challenged a Telangana high court order directing him to pay Rs 10,000 as interim maintenance to his former wife. The petitioner’s counsel argued that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, precludes a divorced Muslim woman from claiming benefits under Section 125 CrPC. However, the Supreme Court bench rejected this contention, upholding the Muslim woman’s right to seek maintenance under the general law.
In its judgment, SC observed that maintenance is not a matter of charity but a fundamental right of married women. This right, the court said, transcends religious boundaries, reinforcing the principle of gender equality and financial security for all married women.
“We are hereby dismissing the criminal appeal with the major conclusion that Section 125 CrPC would be applicable to all woman and not just married woman,” Justice Nagarathna said, pronouncing the verdict.
The apex court highlighted that the time has come for Indian men to recognize the indispensable role and sacrifices made by housewives for the family. The bench highlighted the necessity for husbands to provide financial support to their wives, suggesting practical measures such as maintaining joint bank accounts and sharing ATM access to ensure economic stability for women within the household.

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