Shamim Ara vs. State of UP Case Summary 2002 SC

Shamim Ara vs. State of UP Case Summary 2002 SC

Shamim Ara vs. State of UP case had important things to say about the limits of Muslim men’s talaq privileges in India. This case is a decisive victory for the interests of married Muslim women in India.

Facts of Shamim Ara vs. State of UP case:

  • Shamim Ara the appellant and Abrar Ahmed were married in 1968 under Muslim Shariyat Law. Four sons were born out of wedlock.
  • The appellant on 12.4.1979 applied under Section 125 Cr.P.C on behalf of herself and her two minor children complaining of desertion and cruelty on part of her husband.
  • The husband submitted a written statement of him divorcing the appellant on 11.7.1987.
  • The presiding judge of the family court at Allahabad refused to grant any maintenance to the appellant because the respondent already divorced her on 11.7.1987. The maintenance of Rs.150 was allowed only to one of her children as he was still a minor.
  • The appellant denied having been divorced and preferred a revision before the High Court.
  • The High Court of Allahabad held that the alleged divorce was completed only in 1990 when the respondent submitted a written statement to her appeal. Therefore, the appellant was entitled to claim maintenance from 1988 to 1990.
  • The figure for maintenance allowed by the High Court was Rs.200. The appellant filed a special leave before the Supreme Court.


Whether the appellant can be said to have been divorced by the respondent and the said divorce has been communicated and become effective 5.12.1990, the day when the respondent submitted the written statement in these proceedings?


The Honorable Judges present to hear this case were Justice R C Lahoti and Justice Venkatarama Reddi. The Judges were of the opinion that:

  • The written statement of divorce submitted by the respondent lacked evidence since the details of talaq were not pleaded.
  • The circumstances under which and the persons under whose presence the talaq was pronounced on 11.7.1987 were also not mentioned.
  • There were no reasons given in justification of talaq and no proof that the effort of reconciliation was made which has to precede the talaq.
  • For the talaq to be effective, it has to be pronounced. The word “pronounce” means to proclaim, to utter formally, to utter rhetorically, to articulate, and to declare. There is no proof of talaq being taken place on 11.7.1987.
  • What the high court upheld the written statement as talaq and its copy given to the wife was the communication. The Judges of the Supreme Court held that a mere plea taken in the written statement as divorce having been pronounced in the past cannot be treated as effectuating talaq.
  • A plea of the previous divorce taken as a written statement cannot be treated as a pronouncement of talaq by the husband to wife on the date of filing of the written statement followed by delivery of the copy to the wife.
  • The respondent failed to produce evidence for the talaq to be effective.

Decision in Shamim Ara vs. State of UP:

The Bench held that for the foregoing reasons the appeal is allowed. Neither does it dissolve the marriage between the parties on 5.12.1990 nor does the liability of the respondent to pay the maintenance comes to an end on 5.12.1990. 

Therefore, the respondent shall remain liable to pay maintenance until the obligation ends under law. The respondent shall endure the costs of this appeal.


As ordained by Holy Quran, is that the talaq must be for a reasonable cause and must be led by attempts of reconciliation between the husband and the wife.

Two arbiters must be present for the same; one from the wife’s family and one from the husband’s family. If all the attempts made fail, then talaq may be pronounced.

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