It is a settled position that under the Muslim Law, the Husband is bound to maintain his wife. It is the mandatory provision in Quran that a husband is bound to maintain his wife. The Right of maintenance of wife is a preferential, Absolute and independent right. The wife’s right to be maintained to be arises in the following two circumstances:
- on account of status arising out of valid marriage, and
- on account of a pre-nuptial agreement entered into between the parties to marriage, or between the parents in case the parties or one of them is minor
MAINTENANCE DURING SUBSISTENCE OF MARRIAGE:
A Muslim husband is legally bound to maintain his wife. It is the duty of the husband to maintain his wife. The obligation arises from the marriage validly contracted. If the marriage is void or irregular, the husband has no obligation to maintain his wife. The husband’s duty to maintain commences only from the date when the wife attains puberty and not before it. Where a wife is too young for sexual intercourse and lives with her parents, she has no right to claim maintenance. Although a Muslim wife’s right to be maintained by her husband is an absolute right, but she must be faithful and obedient to him in respect of matrimonial affairs. Similarly, if she refuses to obey the reasonable orders of the husband or lives separately without any reasonable justification, she forfeits her right of maintenance against her husband. A Muslim wife cannot claim maintenance from the husband if her own conduct is violative of her matrimonial obligation.
MAINTENANCE OF MUSLIM WIFE UNDER SECTION 125 OF CRPC:
The legislature took. a drastic step and an amendment in Criminal Procedure Code came into being in 1973. Later, under the new Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, Section 125 empowered the Magistrates to order the husband to provide maintenance to the wives. The provision was extended to ‘divorced wives’ also. Under section 125, a divorced Muslim wife, who has not remarried can make an application to the Magistrate for seeking a maintenance order against the husband provided she is unable to maintain herself and her former husband despite having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain her.
MUSLIM WOMEN (PROTECTION OF RIGHTS ON DIVORCE) ACT 1986:
There were massive demonstrations by the Muslims and the Rajiv Gandhi Government was compelled to upturn the Supreme Court Judgment by passing a new law known as the Muslim Women (Protection of rights on Divorce) Act 1986. According to the Muslim Women’s Act she is entitled to:
- a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance to be made and paid to her within the iddat period by her former husband;
- where she herself maintains the children born to her before or after her divorce, a reasonable and fair provision and maintenance to be made and paid by her former husband for a period of two years from the respective dates of birth of such children;
- an amount equal to the sum of mahr or dower agreed to be paid to her at the time of her marriage or at any time thereafter according of Muslim law; and
- all the properties given to her before or at the time of marriage or after her marriage by her relatives or friends or the husband or any relatives of the husband or his friends.
- A “divorced women” as defined under Section 2(a) of the Act to mean a divorced woman who has married according to Muslim law and has been divorced by or has obtained divorce form her husband according to the Muslim law.
DIVORCED MUSLIM WOMAN CAN CLAIM MAINTENANCE FROM STATE WAKF BOARD:
A divorced Muslim woman unable to maintain herself can directly claim maintenance from the State Wakf Board in the first instance under Section 4 of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 and in the same proceeding can plead inability of her relatives to maintain her. Relatives can be added as parties to the litigation if they have enough means to pay maintenance.
MAINTENANCE TO DIVORCED PREGNANT WIFE:
Under Muslim Law, the liability of the husband to maintain a pregnant wife whom he was divorced ceases at delivery of child. Under Shia law, there is difference of opinion is that a pregnant woman has the right of maintenance. On the other hand, there are people who are of opinion that a pregnant wife has no right of maintenance.
MAINTENANCE AFTER DEATH OF HUSBAND:
Where the marriage is dissolved as a result of the death of the husband, then in that case the widow is not entitled to maintenance either during iddat or even though she is pregnant. Shia Law has also proposed the same thing.
Cases in which Muslim women not entitles to maintenance-
- if she abandon’s the conjugal domicile without any valid cause;
- if she refuses to access to her husband without any valid cause;
- if she is disobedient to his reasonable commands;
- if she refuses to live with her husband without any lawful excuse;
- if she has been imprisoned;
- if she elopes with somebody; if she is minor and on which account marriage cannot be consummated;
- if she deserts her husband voluntarily and does not perform her marital duties;
The right to maintenance of a Muslim woman is absolute and not conditional on whether she can maintain herself or not. Hence, all the Muslim women earning or not earning are eligible for the right to maintenance which is contrary to most of the other religious acts where only dependent women are eligible for the maintenance. It is the duty and liability of the husband to provide adequate maintenance to his wife in all the circumstances irrespective of his financial condition. However, it has to be noted that the husband’s liability is limited only till the iddat period and the wife can claim maintenance only during the period of iddat and not beyond that.
 Ahmad Khan v. Shah Bano, 1945 AIR 945
 T.N. Wakf Board v. Syed Fatima Nachi, (1996) 4 SCC 616
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