Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum Case Summary 1985 SC

Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum Case Summary 1985 SC

Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum Case was highly controversial and drew in a great amount of political scrutiny. Shah Bano case now stands as a landmark judgement that successfully empowers Muslim women with the right to maintenance beyond the period of ‘iddat’ under Section 125 of CrPC. Shah Bano case study is a prominent example of judicial activism to protect the rights of Muslim women against the tyranny of her husband.

CITATION: 1985 SCR (3) 844

DATE OF JUDGEMENT: 23rd April 1985

BENCH: YV Chandrachud (Chief Justice), D.A Desai, O. Chinnappa Reddy, E.S. Venkataramiah, Ranganath Mishra


Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973


  1. The appellant was an advocate by profession and was married to the respondent in 1932. Out of the wedlock, three sons and 2 daughters were born.
  2. The respondent was hurled out of her matrimonial home by the appellant. After which the respondent filed for maintenance in a court of the magistrate.
  3. Subsequently, the appellant divorced the respondent and denied her maintenance on the assertion, that as respondent ceases to be her wife, she cannot claim maintenance.
  4. The Magistrate ordered the appellant to pay rupees 25 per month as maintenance and the respondent filed for revision in the High Court.
  5. The High Court Increased the amount to rupees 125 per month in favor of the respondent aggrieved from this the appellant filed the present appeal.


  1. Whether Muslim women are entitled to maintenance under section 125 CrPC?
  2. Whether Mehar/Dower be deemed as “sum payable on divorce”?


  • The bench, in Shah Bano Begum Case, opined that the religion of the spouse is irrelevant under section 125 CrPC. As it was not enacted to govern any civil relationship but the intent of the section was to provide a quick remedy to the aggrieved.
  • The position that “under Muslim personal law a man is not obligated to provide maintenance beyond the period of iddat” is incorrect.
  • The fundamental position in Muslim law is that when a woman is apt to maintain, then the husband is not obligated to pay maintenance beyond the period of ‘iddat’.
  • But if she is unable to maintain herself, she is entitled to recourse under section 125 CrPC.
  • Mehar/Dower is deemed as an obligation on the husband as a Mark of respect for his wife but divorce is not a sign of respect and considering mehar/dower as “sum payable on divorce” is damaging.

  • The translation of Holy Quran, ayat 241 by Dr. Allamah Khadim Rashmani Nuri stated that “For divorced women, a provision should be made with fairness in addition of dower; this is a duty on the reverent”.
  • Report of commission on Marriage and Family Law appointed by the Government of Pakistan stated:” middle-aged women who are divorced without any reasons should not be thrown out on road without any roof or means of sustenance”.


The bench  while delivering Shah Bano judgement, upheld the decision of the High Court and directed the appellant to pay rupees 10,000 as the cost of appeal in favor of the respondent.

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