Muslim Woman’s Right to Maintenance


The Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, was enacted with an objective, namely to protect the rights of divorced Muslim women. The Act, entitles a divorced Muslim woman, to claim maintenance from her ex-husband. Further, it provides that the husband is obliged to provide maintenance within the period of iddat (waiting period imposed upon a Muslim woman, after dissolution of her marriage). However, the obligation is not restricted to the period of iddat. Also, the Act provides that in case her husband fails to provide maintenance, she can approach the Wakf Board for the same.

Maintenance for the Muslim Woman: Does it help if the woman is self-reliant?

An important question pertaining to the right to maintenance of  a Muslim woman, who has sufficient means of livelihood, arose in a landmark case, Mohammad Yaseen v. Smt. Jareena Bano, RLW 2009 (1) Raj 128. The trial court decided in the favor of the complainant.  However, the complainant filed another petition under the section 3, of the Act, claiming that her rights pertaining to the divorce, granted by the trial court, were reserved, by the revisional court. Ten months after the finality of the revisional court’s order pertaining to grant of maintenance for the period of iddat, she filed another petition, seeking maintenance beyond the period of iddat. However, the court held that the petition was not justified and she could have obtained relief, if she had challenged the earlier order. 

Maintenance for the Muslim Woman: What if the First Wife Refuses to Approve?

 In another case, Aboobacker C.K. v. Rahiyanath and Anr 2008 (3) KLT 482, after 16 years of marriage, the husband wanted to remarry against the wishes of his first wife, who is a Muslim woman. He divorced her for not giving approval and she filed a petition under section 3 of the Act. The court ordered the husband to pay Rs.50, 000/- and Rs.2, 70, 000 as maintenance. However, the Sessions court reserved the direction of payment of Rs.50, 000, but favored the payment of Rs.2, 70, 000. The decision was challenged by the husband in the High Court. The husband claimed that the wife having remarried was not entitled to any maintenance. However, the court held that under section 3, of the Act, the second marriage cannot legally deprive an ex-wife from legal relief. It further held that the amount of maintenance deserves to be modified.

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