Case Analysis |Mohd Ahmad Khan v/s Shah Bano Begum


  1. The Criminal Procedure Code’s Section 125(1) deals with the topic of “Who Can Claim Maintenance?”
  2.  “Wife from her husband”, 
  3. A minor kid, either legitimate or illegitimate, from his father, 
  4. “A minor child, either legitimate or illegitimate, with a physical or mental disability, from his father, &”
  5. “The mother or father of his child who is dependent on him”.

‘Essentials conditions for granting maintenance include the following points”:

  • 1. There are sufficient resources for maintenance “person who has to give the maintenance should have means to give the same”.
  • 2. Failure to maintain after being asked to do so or reluctance to do so if the person defaults or omits to provide maintenance or if he denies his obligation of maintaining then it amounts to neglect or refusal respectively.
  • 3. “The person requesting maintenance must not be able to support themselves (only if the person is unable to maintain themselves”).
  • 4. Maintenance amount “depends on the standard of living”.

Facts of the Case

Three boys and two daughters were born to Mohd Ahmed Khan (the appealing party), a lawyer by profession, and Shah Bano Begum (the respondent), whom he married in 1932. Shah Bano was forced to leave their marital house with her children when she was 62 years old after her husband disowned her. Before the Judicial Magistrate of Indore, she protested the refusal of the Rs. 200 per month in assistance he had committed to give her in 1978.

She requested Rs. 500 in maintenance each month. On November 6th, 1978, the spouse delivered her an irrevocable triple talaq and used that as excuse to stop paying support. In August 1979, the Judge ordered the spouse to pay Rs. 25 in maintenance each month. In July 1908, Shah Bano requested that the maintenance payment be increased to Rs. 179 per month in a petition to the M.P. High Court.

The High Court raised the maintenance to the targeted amount of Rs. 179 per month. The spouse petitioned the Supreme Court for a special permission to examine the High Court’s judgement.


1. “Section 125 of the Criminal Process Code” (“II of 1974”). “Whether a divorced Muslim lady falls under the “WIFE” definition”?

2. “Section 125 of the Criminal Process Code” (“II of 1974”). “Does it supersede personal law if so”?

3. “Section 125 of the Criminal Process Code” (“II of 1974”). “Whether or not section 125 and Muslim personal law are in contradiction regarding a Muslim husband’s duty to support a divorced wife”?

4. ‘Section 127(3) of the Criminal Process Code” (“II of 1974”). (b). “What is the divorce settlement amount? What does Mehar or dower mean exactly and why is it not payable upon divorce”?


  • Mohd Ahmed Khan’s appeal was denied in the C.J., Y.C. Chandrachud’s decision.
  • “The Supreme Court ruled that Section 125(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to Muslims without any form of discrimination because it applies to all citizens regardless of their religion”. “In addition, the court ruled that if there is a disagreement between personal law and section 125, section 125 will take precedence”.
  • “It is made plain that there is no conflict between Section 125’s rules and the Muslim Personal Law’s regarding the Muslim husband’s need to pay maintenance for a divorced wife who is unable to support herself”.
  • “The Supreme Court correctly ruled in this case that because a Muslim husband’s obligation to a divorced wife is limited to the “Iddat” period and because this situation does not fall under the provisions of Section 125 of the CrPc., 1973”, the husband’s obligation to provide for the wife extends past the iddat period in the event that she lacks the resources to do so”.
  • “The court went on to say that this provision, according to Muslim law, was improper or against humanity in this case because a divorced wife was unable to support herself”. “The payment of Mehar by the husband on divorce is not sufficient to exempt him from the duty to pay maintenance to the wife. 
  • Following a protracted legal process, the Supreme Court ultimately decided that if a divorced wife is competent to support herself, the husbands’ legal duty will stop”. “The position will be reversed, however, if the woman is unable to support herself after the Iddat term and qualifies for maintenance or alimony under Section 125 of the CrPC”.

Case laws Stated


Does the concept of “WIFE” include a divorced Muslim woman or not? “Does Section 125 of the Code apply to Muslims”?

“Citing Section 125 of the CrPC, the SC declared that the religion practised by a spouse or by the spouses has no place within the parameters of these laws. How these rules are enforced is unaffected by whether the spouses are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, pagans, or heathens”.

“The rationale behind this is clear given that Section 125 belongs to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) as opposed to Civil Laws, which specify and govern the rights and obligations of parties who identify with a particular religion, such as the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, the Shariat, or the Parsi Matrimonial Act”. “The enactment of Section 125 has provided a quick and easy solution for a group of people who are unable to appeal”.

” Clause (b), the explanation to section 125(1), which defines “WIFE” to include a divorced wife, contains no terms of limitation that would support the exclusion of Muslim women from its scope. It is clear that Clause 125 is truly secular”.

 “Hence, the code applies to any or all religions including Muslims”.

The judgment asserts that “’Wife’ means a wife as defined, irrespective of the religion professed by her or by her husband. Therefore, a divorced Muslim woman, unless remarried, is a ‘wife’ under section 125 of the code. The statutory right available to her under it is unaffected by the provisions of the personal law applicable to her.” 

This clears the very fact that “Wife” includes divorced women too.

• “Does Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code supersede personal law”?

.  “In response to the question, the court gave the following illustration of how Islamic law views polygamy”. “The statement “A Mahomedan may have up to four wives at once, but not more” is known by far too many people”.

“If he marries a fifth woman after already having four, the marriage is not nullified, but it is improper”. “The court continued by saying that if her husband marries another woman, let alone three or four more, the wife has the right to refuse to live with him”. “It clearly shows that in the event of a conflict, section 125 takes precedence over personal law”.

• “Is there any conflict between Section 125’s rules and the Muslim Personal Law’s rules regarding the obligation of a Muslim husband to support his divorced wife”?

  • In response, the court said: ” Hence, it must be rejected the appellant’s claim that, according to Muslim Personal Law, his duty to support his divorced wife extends solely to the duration of iddat, even if she is unable to sustain herself. In reality, if the divorced lady is able to support herself, the husband’s responsibility to do so stops after the iddat term is up.
  • If she is unable to sustain herself, she may apply section 125 of the CrPC. As a result of this discussion, there is no incompatibility between the provisions of Section 125 and the Muslim Personal Law with regard to the issue.

• :Is the husband’s payment of Mehar sufficient to release him from any duty to support the wife after the divorce”?

“The payment of illusory amounts (referring to “Mehar”) by way of customary or personal law requirement is to be considered within the reduction of maintenance rate”, “but it cannot annihilate that rate unless it is a reasonable substitute, according to the statement made by the speaker, who cited Justice Krishna Iyer’s ruling in Bai Tahira”.

“In this instance, the SC declared that “there is no escape from the conclusion that a divorced Muslim wife is eligible to petition for maintenance under section 125 and that, Mehar isn’t a sum which, under the Muslim Personal Law, is payable on divorce”.


According to the speaker, who cited Justice Krishna Iyer’s decision in the case of Bai Tahira, “the payment of fictitious amounts (referring to “Mehar”) as a result of customary or personal law requirements is to be taken into account when reducing the maintenance rate, but it cannot do so unless it is a reasonable substitute”.

“The Supreme Court ruled that there was “no escape from the conclusion that a divorced Muslim wife is eligible to file for maintenance under section 125 and that, Mehar isn’t a sum which, under the Muslim Personal Law, is payable on divorce” in this case”. 

Muslim scholars in particular criticised Shah Bano’s case verdict. They considered this decision to be against Islamic law and Islamic principles.

“The decision to enact the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Divorce) Act was made by the Indian Parliament in 1986. This law’s main objective was to safeguard the rights of divorced Muslim women and/or those who had broken off their marriages”.

As per this law:

“Muslim divorced women should be entitled” to maintenance that is sufficient and reasonable until the Iddat period.

“A divorced woman’s ex-spouse is legally obligated to pay a specific amount of maintenance for the child for two years after the child is born if she raises a child she had before, recently, or after the divorce”. “Women are also allowed to retrieve any estate that has been given to them as “Mehar” or “dower” by their guardians, companions, family, spouses, or husband’s acquaintances”.


“Even if the court took some time to make up its mind, rejecting the appeal supports the public’s confidence in the judicial system and is consequently a highly historic choice. This decision has brought attention to the requirement that Muslim women who have experienced divorce and are unable to support themselves be provided with maintenance payments.

“The Shah Banu ruling was attacked by powerful organizations because it violated the precepts of Islamic law, but the SC upheld the unbiased judgement and ultimately protected the public’s confidence in the legal system”.

“This led to the passing of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, which permitted Muslim women to receive a sizeable, one-time payment from their husbands during the period of Iddat in lieu of a maximum monthly payment of 500 – a limit that has since been repealed”.

2 thoughts on “Case Analysis |Mohd Ahmad Khan v/s Shah Bano Begum

Leave a Reply