NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court today said that divorced Muslim women are entitled to seek maintenance from their ex-husbands under the Criminal Procedure Code which provides the same relief to wives, children and parents.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant referred several judgements of the apex court where law has been settled that a magistrate can grant maintenance to a divorced Muslim woman and parameters and considerations are the same as stipulated in Section 125 of the CrPC.
Section 125 of the CrPC deals with order for maintenance for wives, kids and parents if any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain them.
Dealing with the issue of applicability of Section 125 CrPC to a Muslim woman who has been divorced, the bench upheld a trial court's order which had directed a man, retired Nayak from Army, to pay Rs 4,000 maintenance to his divorced wife.
It said, "there can be no shadow of doubt that Section 125 CrPC has been rightly held to be applicable by the family judge."
The bench was "disturbed" to know that the application for grant of maintenance was filed by the woman in 1998, which had remained undecided by the family court till February, 2012. It said it was also "shocking" to note that there was no order for grant of interim maintenance.
"It needs no special emphasis to state that when an application for grant of maintenance is filed by the wife the delay in disposal of the application, to say the least, is an unacceptable situation. It is, in fact, a distressing phenomenon. An application for grant of maintenance has to be disposed of at the earliest. The family courts, which have been established to deal with the matrimonial disputes which include application under Section 125 CrPC, have become absolutely apathetic to the same," it said.
The counsel for the woman had submitted that Section 125 CrPC was applicable to Muslim women and the family court had jurisdiction to decide the issue. The objection over the maintainability was initially raised by the ex-husband before the trial court.
The bench was deciding an appeal filed by a Muslim woman challenging the high court order reducing the amount of maintenance to Rs 2,000 from Rs 4,000 awarded to her by a trial court.
It set aside high court order and allowed the woman's appeal, noting that the aspects have gone uncontroverted as the husband had not appeared and contested the matter.
The family judge in Lucknow, while dealing with the application, had not accepted the primary objection on maintainability under Section 125 CrPC as the applicant was a Muslim woman.
It had held that even after the divorce, the application of the wife under the provision was maintainable in the family court.