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The Shah Bano Begum Case: Understanding the Controversial Landmark Decision in Indian Law


The Shah Bano case is the type of case that can serve as a wake-up call for Indian citizens or, more specifically, Muslim women in India.


Shah Bano, who was born in 1913 before Independence and married at a young age, became the nation’s symbol of the fight for women’s rights. She had five children with her husband, and her life drastically changed after she got divorced in 1978 at the age of 65, almost five years past retirement age. Her husband was required to pay maintenance, but he refused to do so.

Shah Bano filed a lawsuit against her husband for the claim of maintenance, which led to a long battle.



In a historic ruling, the court ordered Md. Ahmed Khan to continue paying Shah Bano 500 rupees per month even after the iddat period (the three-month period following a divorce), for which she had filed a case under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code in 1985. The Supreme Court said that maintenance is a right that is available to all Indian citizens and is not limited to any one religion. The court also rejected the claim that Muslim personal law (Shariat) applied to the case because it was not a divorce case under Muslim personal law.


The verdict had a big effect on Muslim personal law, which is what governs the private lives of Muslims in India. Some Muslim leaders criticized the decision, saying it interfered with religious practices and beliefs. Even though the decision was seen as a win for women’s rights, the conservative Muslim community reacted politically against it. strongly disagree with the court’s ruling, contending that it violates Muslim personal law, which permits men to simply say “talaq” three times to divorce their wives, In response to the controversy, the government at the time passed the Muslim Women Act of 1986, which makes the ruling in Shah Bano’s favor null and void.


To sum up, the case of MD. Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum was a turning point for the country and Muslim women’s rights in India. It established Section 125 of the CrPC and reaffirmed the principles of gender justice and equality before the law. It also highlighted the challenges of reconciling religious belief and practice with the principles of secular law and social justice, which the government of the time did and which I cannot accept.


Some of Fact Check –

#  In 1932, Shah Bano was married to Mohd. Ahmad Khan, who was a renowned lawyer in Indore.

# They have three sons and two daughters, for a total of five children.

#AfterShah Bano’s husband married another woman who was younger than him.

# In 1975, when Shah Bano age was of 62 years old, she was disowned by her husband and thrown out of her matrimonial home along with her children.

# In April 1978, she filed an appeal under Sec. 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) in the presence of the judicial magistrate of Indore after she was thrown away from her matrimonial home by her husband.

# Shah Bano filed this suit in 1978 because her husband abandoned her and the maintenance of Rs. 200 per month that he guaranteed to give her.

# A wife who is without any income and is neglected by her husband is entitle to maintenance, which includes a divorced wife who is not remarried

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