Libertatem Magazine

Case Comment: Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum and Ors 

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Equivalent citations: 1985 AIR 945, 1985 SCR (3) 844

Date of Judgement -23/04/1985

Bench: Y. C. Chandrachud (CJ) Rangath Misra, D. A. Desai, O.

Chinnappa Reddy, E. S. Venkataraman (JJ)


  • In 1932, Shah Bano was married to Mohd. Ahmad Khan who was renowned lawyer in Indore
  • They were the parents of3 sons and 2 daughters
  • After 14 years of marriage, Shah Bano’s husband married other women who was younger than him.
  • Shah Bano was disowned by her husband and forced out of her matrimonial house with her children when she was 62 years old in 1975.
  • In April 1978, she brought an appeal under sec-125 of code of criminal Procedure,1973 (CrPc) in the Presence of Judicial magistrate of lndore after when her husband forcefully evicted her from her marital home.
  • Shah Bano filed this claim in 1978 because her husband had abandoned her from the maintenance of Rs 200 per month which he guaranteed to give.
  • A divorced wife who has not remarried is entitled to support if she has no income and is abandoned by her husband.
  • In November 1978, he handed his wife Shah Bano an irreversible divorce by uttering Triple Talaq.
  • After announcing irreversible Triple Talaq, he took SAFEGUARD to ensure that she was no longer her legal wife as a result of the divorce, and that he was not obligated to pay her maintenance alimony.
  • The local court (magistrate) court directed Mohd. Ahmad to furnish her Rs.25 per month to Shah Bano in a form of maintenance.


  • Shah Bano in July 1908, apart from this, made a plea to High Court of M.P to atter the amount of maintenance to Rs. 179 every month.


  • Shah Bano’s case was taken to the Supreme Court, where he filed a petition challenging the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s decision.
  • Her Husband’s major argument is that after divorce, he cannot maintain any type of alliance or connection with his divorced wife because it is prohibited by Islamic rules / Islam and is therefore Haram, and thus he is not legally obliged to support her.

 Issues Raised in the Case

-whether or not section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to Muslims.

-whether the payment of Mehr by the husband on divorce is sufficient enough to rid him of any duty to Pay Maintenance to the wife

Appellant’s Argument

The arguments put forward by the appellants was that the liability of the husband to maintain his

divorced wife is until the iddat Period and they relied upon the statement of law in certain

textbooks. In Mulla’s Mohammedan Law (l8th Edition, para 279, page 301), there is a statement

to the effect that, after divorce, the wife is entitled to maintenance during the period of iddat

Furthermore, the text states that where an order for a wife’s support is made under section 488,

of crpc and the wife is afterwards divorced, the order ceases to operate CRPC and the on the

expiration of the Period of Iddat. As a result, a Mahomedan may be able to overturn an order.In that instance, his obligation to support his wife will end once the iddat is completed.




Respondent’s Argument
The respondent has filed the suit under section 125 of CRPC in the High Court of Madhya Pradesh order to increase the amount of maintenance to Rs 179.20/month which was granted by the High court and then special leave was filled by the husband against the order of the Court.


  • The judgement was delivered by C.J. Y.C Chandrachud, and Mohd. Ahmed Khan’s appeal was dismissed.
  • The Supreme Court ruled that Section of the code applies to all citizens, regardless of religion and consequently section 125(3) of Code of Criminal Procedure is pertinent to Muslims as will, without any sort of discrimination.
  • The court went on to say that if there is a contradiction, section 125 takes precedence over personal law. between the two it makes clear that there is no strife between the Provisions of section 125 and those of the Muslim Personal law on the address of the Muslim husband is obligation to provide m maintenance for a divorced wife who is incapable to maintain herself.
  • Supreme court in this case duly held that since the Obligation of Muslim husband towards her divorced wife is restricted to the degree of Iddat period, indeed though this circumstance does not contemplate the rule of law that’s said in section 125 of CrPc 1973 and subsequently If the wife does not have the resources to support herself, the husband’s obligation to pay maintenance to her goes beyond the Iddat Period. It was further stated by the count that this rule according to Muslim law was against humanity or was wrong because here a divorced wife was not a condition to maintain herself.
  • The payment of Mehar by the husband upon divorce is insufficient to relieve him of his obligation to give the wife maintenance.
  • After a long court procedure, the supreme court finally concluded that the husband’s legally liability will come to end if a divorced wife is competent to maintain herself. But this situation will be switched in the case when the wife isn’t able in a condition. To maintain herself after the Iddat period, she will be entitled to get maintenance or alimony under section 125 of Crpc.




Subsequent development

  1. Danial Latifi vs Union of India
  2. Shamina Farooqui vs Shahid Khan 2015
  3. Jubair Ahmad us Ishat Bano 2019
  4. Rashida Khanumand vs Sk. Salim 1995.



The court’s decision to dismiss the appeal took a long time, but it is significant because it upholds the truth and faith of persons in the judiciary.

The Hon’ble court’s decision was a significant step toward a more equitable society. This landmark decision recognized a significant step forward for women’s rights and expressed their opinions as a sign of respect for women.

Husbands can no longer desert their wives by severing marital ties based on his desire. Wives can now claim maintenance if they are unable to support themselves.


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