Usman Khan Bahamani vs Fathimunnisa Begum and Ors
Date of Order:
19th March 1990
Justice Arijit Pasayat, S.H. Kapadia
Petitioner: Usman Khan Bahamani
Defendant: Fathimunnisa Begum and Ors
- The facts of the case include, Usman Khan Bahamani vs Fathimunnisa Begum were a married couple under Muslim personal law.
- This Full Bench will therefore need to assess the questions in light of the Act of 1986's provisions, Islamic Law's guiding principles, and Sections 125 to 128 of the Code.
- The primary goal of going in-depth on the Act of 1986's statement of objects and reasons is to emphasize that it was passed in response to the Supreme Court's Shah Bano case decision and that it aims to resolve the issues that have arisen regarding the husband's obligation to provide for his divorced Muslim wife.
- As a result, we would want to approach the Act's provisions that call for consideration in this matter against the backdrop of the circumstances that led to the Act of 1986's passage.
- Does a divorced Muslim woman have the right to ask her ex-husband for maintenance under Section 125 of the Code even after the Act of 1986 was passed?
- Does the maintenance envisioned by Section 3(1)(a) of the Act of 1986 apply just during the "Iddat" era, or must a fair and reasonable provision also be made for the future within the Iddat time?
- To what extent can the Code's Sections 125 to 128 be deemed to apply following the entry into force of the Act of 1986, and how should cases pending before the courts under these Sections be resolved?
- A three-judge panel of the Andhra High Court ruled in this case that a divorced woman should receive maintenance on a reasonable schedule. The righteous have an obligation to do this. According to the honorable bench, there is no disagreement on Abdullah Yusuf Ali's translation of the aforementioned ayat. The Quranic verse 241, where the word "MATA" is utilized, gives rise to the idea of a reasonable and fair provision and upkeep.
- The verses of "The Hedaya," the classical work of Muslim law that governs the majority Sunni sect of Muslims, have been cited by the honorable court in the aforementioned case. In this verse, it is stated that when a man divorces his wife, he is responsible for providing for her subsistence and lodging during the duration of her Iddat, whether the divorce is reversible or irreversible. The phrase "subsistence and lodging" has a broad enough definition to cover appropriate and just maintenance. The Shafei legislation states that unless a woman is pregnant, she is not entitled to maintenance after an irrevocable divorce. The Holy Quran states in Verse 228 that divorced women must wait three monthly cycles before making any decisions about themselves. Iddat is in effect at the moment.
- The conclusion and key point of the debate above is that Sunnis and Shias alike agree that a divorced Muslim woman is only entitled to maintenance from her husband during the period of Iddat.
- Divorced ladies must wait three monthly cycles before making any decisions about themselves. It is obvious that the woman has a right to support during the Iddat after the divorce. She is entitled to support until she is told of the divorce if it is not disclosed to her until after the passing of that time period.
- All renowned Islamic law writers, including Tyabji, Ameer Ali, Fyzee, and others, agree that a divorced woman is only entitled to maintenance throughout the Iddat period. Apart from Hedaya, the standard work on Sunni law, Immamia, a treatise on Shia law, and Baillie, which covers both Shia and Sunni legal issues, all agree that a divorced woman is only entitled to maintenance during the Iddat period. Because of this, while women have the freedom to marry, they also have the freedom to be supported by their husbands.
- Modern legal systems have criticized Muslim maintenance laws based on the Holy Quran, Hadith, Izma, and Qyas since these 2,000-year-old scriptures do not adequately address the needs of contemporary socio-economic structures. The goal of the current legal system is to safeguard the rights of all women, including Muslim women, who have been divorced by their husbands or who have acquired their own divorces, as well as to offer proper protection in cases that are related to or incidental to such actions.
- In Usman Khan Bahamani v. Fathimunnisa Begum, the Andhra Pradesh High Court declared that a Muslim lady is only entitled to maintenance during the time of iddah.
- The phrase "within" as used in Section 3(1) of the Muslim Women Act was also interpreted widely by the court.
- According to the court, a husband is only accountable for fair and appropriate maintenance throughout the iddah era and only during the iddah time.
- The Muslim Women Act's motive or goal is to support and favor women, so its interpretation should be done in that way unless anything contrary is specified, which is not the case in this case, the Hon'ble Apex Court stated in dismissing the Andhra Pradesh High Court's limited interpretation of section 3.
In this case, when addressing the issue of a divorced Muslim woman's ability to obtain maintenance from her former husband under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as "the Code"), a Division Bench of this Court referred the case to the Full Bench. The Division Bench believed that the case should be brought before the Full Bench for an authoritative decision since it includes significant legal issues of general significance and wide-ranging implications.