28, Oct 2015
New Delhi, Oct. 27: The Supreme Court has ruled that the controversial law enacted by the Rajiv Gandhi government to annul the Shah Bano judgment should be visited by a constitution bench and Muslim women cannot be discriminated against in terms of polygamy and alimony.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act of 1986 restricts the period for payment of maintenance to iddat, a window ranging from three months to four months and 10 days during which a Muslim woman is not supposed to remarry after divorce or the death of her husband. Wakf boards are expected to help the women after iddat.
The 1986 law, criticised at that time as an appeasement measure, effectively overturned the landmark Supreme Court judgment that held that Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to everyone regardless of caste, creed or religion. Section 125 provides for maintenance to a divorced woman unable to maintain herself throughout her lifetime unless she remarries.
Section 125 makes maintenance mandatory until a divorced woman who is unable to maintain herself remarries, subject to a few conditions.
Now, a bench of Justices A.R. Dave and A.K. Goel has urged the Chief Justice of India to constitute an “appropriate bench” to deal with the two issues: polygamy and maintenance.
The order was passed on October 16 but does not appear to have drawn much attention since then. The bench had converted into a PIL certain arguments on gender discrimination raised by a lawyer in a property dispute between two Hindu families of Karnataka.