As per Muslim personal law, a Muslim women upon her divorce will be entitled to maintenance from her husband only till iddat period. But the supreme court in Shah Bano Begum v Mohd. Ahmed Khan 1985 has held that sec 125 being secular provision will apply to all women irrespective of her religion. Moreover, it would be inequitable and unjustful that any other women are entitled to maintenance until she remarried whereas Muslim women would be entitled only till iddat period. It would also amount to be a discrimination on the basis of religion thus voilative of Article 15 read with Article 14 of the Constitution. Hence alike any other women she does have the right to claim maintenance until she remarried.
However, the Parliament has pass the 1986 Act which renders the above judgement ineffective as section 3 of such starts with the word “notwithstanding anything…” and provides that a Muslim divorced woman is entitled to maintenance within her iddat period. Further section 4 of such act provides after iddat period relative of such women will provide her maintenance if she unable to maintain her thus it seems as if it is intended that her right is limited only till iddat period as far as the duty of the husband is concerned.
The said question came before the supreme court in Daniel Latifi v UOI 2001 where the supreme court speaking through Rajendra Babu j has held that alike any other women a Muslim are also entitled to maintenance until she remarried. The basic reasoning behind such judgement is as follows:
1) That if Muslim women right is restricted than it would amount to discrimination on the basic of religion thus voilative of Article 15 & 14 of the constitution hence will render 1986 violative of the Constitution.
2) That if rigid interpretation will render an act void whereas liberal interpretation will retain the constitutionality of act as well as full its purpose then latter has to be adopted. Therefore the word “within” as used in section 3 (1)(a) of the act has not to be taken in reference with the period for which he is bound to pay rather it refers to time within which the husband has to make provision of maintenance for such divorced wife.
Important: Recently the sc has held that 125 will apply also upon Muslim women. read that judgement also for present position.