October 4, 2022

The Entire Story of Shah Bano Case

The case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan vs Shah Bano Begum[1], is considered that landmark case not only in Constitutional history but also in political history of India, that changed a lot in India in the arena of personal law, muslim politics. This case started a debate on Triple Talaq and Uniform Civil Code in India. Very much have been written and said on the matter. But in this article we are presenting the story of Shah bano that came to the honourable Supreme Court to decide.

An Appeal

This case arose out of appeal filed by a Muslim husband against the order of the high court to provide maintenance to his divorcee wife. The husband (Mohd. Ahmad Khan), was an advocate by profession, and was married to the Shah Bano in 1932. Three sons and two daughters were born of that marriage.

In 1975, the Ahmad khan drove Shah bano out of the matrimonial home. In April 1978, Shah Bano filed a petition against Ahmad Khan under section 125 of the Code in the court of the learned Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Indore asking for maintenance at the rate of Rs 500 per month.

On November 6, 1978 the appellant divorced the respondent by an irrevocable talaq (Triple talaq/ Talaq-e-Biddat). His defence to Shah bano’s petition for maintenance was that she had ceased to be his wife by reason of the divorce granted by him, to provide that he was therefore under no obligation maintenance for her, that he had already paid maintenance to her at the rate of Rs. 200 per month for about two years and that, he had deposited a sum of Rs. 3000 in the court by way of dower during the period the of iddat.

In August, 1979 the learned Magistrate directed Ahmad Khan to pay a princely sum of Rs. 25 per month to the respondent by way of maintenance. It may be mentioned that Shah Bano had alleged that Ahmad Khan earns a professional income of about Rs. 60,000 per year.

In July, 1980, in a revisional application filed by the wife, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh enhanced the amount of maintenance to Rs. 179.20 per month. Therefore, husband reached the supreme court by special leave.

But after reviewing the entire position of muslim person law on maintenance matters and the scope of application of section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, the bench of supreme court decided that muslim women may ask for maintenance under section 125 of Cr.P.C. and in the instant case, the court affirmed the order of High Court and dismissed the petition of husband.


[1] 1985 AIR 945