SECTION 125 OF CRPC (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Governance)

News-CRUX-10     21st February 2024        

Context: The Supreme Court has decided to examine if a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to a claim of maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against her former husband  reigniting the debate on whether secular laws should be given precedence over distinct personal laws.

Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)

  • Scope of Maintenance: Maintenance encompasses the support provided to wives, children, and parents who are unable to sustain themselves financially.
  • Codification and Stipulations: Section 125 of the CrPC governs maintenance for destitute wives, children, and parents.
  • Claimants Eligibility:

oWife: A wife, especially if divorced and not remarried, can claim maintenance if she is incapable of supporting herself.

oChildren: Both legitimate and illegitimate children, below a certain age or disabled, have the right to claim maintenance from their parents.

oParents: Both biological and adoptive parents can claim maintenance from their children if they are unable to support themselves, subject to certain conditions.

  • Duration and Enforcement: Maintenance can be temporary or permanent, and the court specifies the duration and mode of payment.

oNon-compliance with maintenance orders can lead to legal consequences for the defaulter.

  • Exceptions for Wife's Entitlement: A wife is not entitled to maintenance if she is living in adultery, refuses to live with her husband without sufficient cause, or lives separately by mutual consent.
  • Regional Amendments: States have made amendments to limit maintenance amounts.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986

  • Background and Purpose: Introduced as a religion-specific law to address maintenance during divorce for Muslim women.
  • Response to Shah Bano Begum Case: A response to a controversial Supreme Court decision perceived to challenge religious personal laws.
  • Provisions of the 1986 Act

oMaintenance during Iddat: Section 3 ensures maintenance during the iddat period.

oProcedure Post Iddat: After iddat, a woman can seek maintenance from a first-class magistrate if she hasn't remarried.

Legal Interpretations and Court Rulings

  • Danial Latifi v. Union Of India (2001): Constitutional validity upheld with a limitation on maintenance till remarriage or iddat completion.
  • 2009 Supreme Court Ruling: Affirms the right of a divorced Muslim woman to claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC.
  • 2019 Patna High Court Decision: Highlights the option for Muslim women to seek maintenance under both CrPC and the 1986 Act.