Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and Ors.

Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and Ors.


COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Y.V. Chandrachud, C.J., D.A. Desai, E.S. Venkataramiah, O. Chinnappa Reddy and Ranganath Misra, JJ.

REFERENCE: Criminal Appeal No. 103 of 1981


Appellants: Mohd. Ahmed Khan

Respondents: Union of India & Others


This is a landmark judgement which has dealt with the issue of “Triple Talaq Verdict”. This case is typically referenced as “Shah Bano Case”. It is viewed as a truly disputable and problematic law challenge in India. This case has been validated to be an achievement in the battle of rights, opportunity for the Muslim ladies.


An application was made under Section 125 CrPC with respect to maintenance to a spouse who can’t look after herself. The Appellant, a lawyer was wedded to Respondent in 1932. In 1975 the husband drove the respondent out of the home. In 1978 respondent filed an appeal under section 125 of Crpc, in JMFC Indore for maintenance. In 1978 the appealing party separated the respondent by irreversible Talak and claimed that since she is no more a spouse he has no commitment to supply support to her as he has as of now paid Rs.200 per month for 2 years in a way of Dower amid the period of Iddat. In 1979 the Judge ordered to pay a whole of Rs.25 per month to the respondent by way of maintenance.

The High Court of Madhya Pradesh upgraded the sum to Rs.179.20 per month. The Spouse made a special writ petition to Apex Court.


Criminal Procedure Code, 1973:

Section 125: Order for maintenance of wives, children and parents.

Section 125(3)(b): the woman has been divorced by her husband and that she has received, whether before or after the date of the said order, the whole of the sum which, under any customary or personal law applicable to the parties, was payable on such divorce.

The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937:

According to the Act, the courts were to give decisions on matters of divorce, maintenance and other family issues based on Shariat.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986: ISSUES:
  1. Whether section 125 of crpc is concerned with Muslims or not?
  2. Whether the whole of Mahr given by her spouse on divorce is sufficient to urge the husband freed and whether he is obligated for her maintenance?
  3. Whether the Uniform Respectful code applies to all religion or not?

Earlier to this case coming to the court, there were two Apex Court judgments expressing that the court might allow maintenance. In any case, it was felt that these were not strong enough. Hence, a five seat Constitution bench was formed to decide on the matter.

Decision and Reasoning:

The Apex Court in this matter conveyed a unanimous decision. The court centered on religious lack of bias of section 125 of CrPc, expressing that the religion of the companion was insignificant in choosing whether maintenance can be permitted under section 125 or not. The reason of this section was to secure dependents from homelessness and dejection, therefore, there was no reason to eliminate Muslim ladies. The court pronounced that Muslim law did not deal with the matter managed u/s 125. The court held that Mahr was not a sum paid to a Muslim lady ‘on divorce’. The court said that Mahr implied a consideration of marriage. The court hence held that supporting maintenance would not go against the religion of Islam. The court affirmed the maintenance granted by Madhya Pradesh High Court (Rs.

179.20 each month ) and additionally granted to Shah Bano the legal costs of the appeal, which is settled at 10,000 rupees.


This case was a notable decision because it keeps up the trust and faith of the individuals in the judiciary, as in this case, “Equity and justice has overcome religion”. This claim was breakthrough point in legal history because it was bold, strong, unbiased and one of a kind decision. This judgment has stamped the significance of maintenance which should be given to the separated Muslim ladies who are not within the condition to gain employment and keep up themselves. Indeed in spite of the fact that the decision of Shah Bano case given by the Supreme Court was nullified by the enactment of Muslim Women Act, the court held in further verdict’s that separated Muslim ladies, under Section 125 of CrPc can confirm maintenance or divorce settlement from their previous spouse.

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