The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India observed that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 does not violate any fundamental right prescribed under the Constitution of India.


[Case Brief] Danial Latifi & Anr. Vs. Union of India


Case Name- Danial Latifi & Anr. Vs. Union of India

Case number- Writ Petition (civil) 868 of 1986

Court- Supreme Court of India

Bench- Justice G.B Pattanaik

Justice S. Rajendra Babu

Justice D.P. Mohapatra

Justice Doraiswamy Raju

Justice Shivraj V. Patil

Decided on- 28/09/2001

Relevant Act/ Sections- The   Constitution of India, 1950

The   Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973


BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

1. The case much appreciated as the Shah Bano Case i.e., Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum (AIR 1985 SC 945), is considered to be the most effectual case pertaining to the maintenance lawsuit in India. The women named Shah Bano, who is the mother of five children, belonging to Indore, Madhya Pradesh got divorced from her husband in the year 1978.

2. The husband dissolved the marriage by pronouncing triple talaq, where he also paid the amount of Mahr and other maintenance arrears as well as for the maintenance during the iddat period and claimed to have done all formalities and procedure prescribed as under the Muslim Law applicable to the parties.

3. This Court, after referring to the various text books on Muslim law, held that the divorced wives right to maintenance ceased on expiration of iddat period but this Court proceeded to observe that the general propositions reflected in those statements did not deal with the special situation where the divorced wife was unable to maintain herself.

4. After such happening with her, she filed a criminal suit under section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and by her efforts upon the case, she won the case in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, where the right of Alimony from her husband which she had sought from the Supreme Court, later was rejected because of the building pressure from the Muslim Orthodox Society.

5. There became a lot of hurting up of the sentiments of the Muslim Orthodox community and society, which progressed to many disturbances, unwanted debates, protestations, conflicting views, unscrupulous chaos conditions and circumstances under the Muslim Law, as there were the drastic changes which were so incorporated under it after the landmark judgment, so prescribed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India under the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum (AIR 1985 SC 945).

6. The Constitutional validity of the Muslim Women (Protection on Rights of Divorce) Act, 1986 is challenged before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India through filing up of a writ petition as the Congress Government with its absolute majority wanted to pass the Muslim Women (Protection on Rights of Divorce) Act, 1986 and the same was also denied by the Muslim Divorcees as to the right to alimony from their former husband.


ISSUES BEFORE THE COURT:

1. Whether the Muslim (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 is constitutionally valid?


RATIO OF THE COURT:

1. The Petitioner contended that as far as the nature of the Muslim marriage is concerned, this is mostly like a Contract, where consideration becomes its necessary part which here is in form of Mahr and thus keeping this fact section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code talks in regards to the public policy, where without any specific consideration, the marriage cannot subsist, and thus the above-mentioned section governs the rights and obligations of the particular religion too.

2. Also, it was contended that the Act is non-Islamic, where the Muslim women too will have the feeling of suffocation inside them as well as it is unconstitutional which is also against the secular character and thus is held to be discriminatory and violative of article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution of the Muslim women, excluding the provision of section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The learned counsel appearing for the Muslim Organization contended after referring to various passages and stated that the law is very clear that a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to maintenance only up to the stage of iddat and not thereafter.

3. The Respondents, on the other hand, submitted that the Parliament enacted the Impugned Act, respecting the personal law of Muslim community and which is itself is the legitimate basis of personal law applicable to such community, which cannot be held to be discriminatory as the personal law is now being continued and governed by the legislative enactment as the object was itself to preserve the personal law, thus does not offend Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.

4. It was also contended by the respondent that it does not make any women destitute and on the other hand, does not penalize the husband, therefore the Act is not invalid or unconstitutional, bearing in mind the personal law of the Muslim community and the fact that the benefits of section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure have not been extended to a Muslim woman.

5. The Court observed that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 does not violate any fundamental right prescribed under the Constitution of India. The pronounced judgment in the present case was not of the conflicting opinion with the legislation which was so framed by the Shah Bano Case, too supported that specific legislation.

6. The court reffered to the case of Arab Ahemadhia Abdulla and etc vs. Arab Bail Mohumuna Saiyadbhai & Ors. etc., (AIR 1988 (Guj.) 141); Ali vs. Sufaira, (1988) 3 Crimes 147 and various cases where while interpreting the section 3 (1) (a) and 4 of the Act, it was held that the divorced Muslim woman is entitled to a fair and reasonable provision for her future being made by her former husband which must include maintenance for future extending beyond the iddat period and and the court thus observed that the liability of the former husband even extend after the expiry of the iddat period as far as the maintenance is concerned.

7. The judgment so pronounced by the Hon’ble judges of the Supreme Court in the present case generally look forth deep again and reviewed the essential principles as which were laid down under the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum (AIR 1985 SC 945), which emphasized on the lines of judgment that the liability of the Muslim woman’s husband does not get furnished with the soon successful completion of the tenure of the iddat period as the liability would be on the husband to make reasonable and fair provision for the future of the divorced wife which is inclusive of her maintenance as the liability of the Muslim husband to his divorced wife arising of section 3 (1) (a) of the Act to pay maintenance is not confined to only the iddat period.

8. The force was led on the point by the Hon’ble Judges that a divorced Muslim woman, who has not remarried and even not able to maintain herself after iddat period can proceed as provided under section 4 of the Act as against her relatives as to the proportion or part of the properties to which she is entitled or inherited including her children and parents and thus either of the relatives anyhow not entitling maintains to maintain her, the Magistrate may direct the State Waqf Board, established under the Act, to pay her the maintenance.

9. It was also held that the Act was also in consonance with section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code and thus it becomes crystal clear that no dispute or conflicts get arisen out of it to effectuate the dispute and thus the position of law is not disturbed or changed in the present case and is given under the same heads as that what was there in the Shah Bano Case. And further adding to this, the condition is still in the present scenario is the same and keep on continuing to govern the matters pertaining to the concerns of maintenance as far as that of the Muslim Women after the dissolution of the marriage is concerned.

10. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India reiterated the position by pronouncing that the divorced women are entitled to the maintenance beyond the completion of the tenure of the iddat period and on the same part also imparted that there is no violation of the articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution as against the provisions of the Act which was brought under the dispute.


DECISION HELD BY COURT:

1. As a result of the said case, the writ petitions challenging the Act, got dismissed as any of the rights which are considered to be the most of fundamental importance is not being violated and not in conflict with the articles 14,15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

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