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Maintenance Under Section 125 CrPC with reference Uniform Civil Code

Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for a speedy, effective and rather inexpensive remedy against the persons who neglect or refuse to maintain their dependent parents, children , and wives. Though the subject matter of these provisions is civil in nature, but the primary justification for their inclusion in the Code is that the remedy provided is speedy and economical.

Under this provision, if any person who have sufficient means and neglects or refuses to maintain:
  • his wife,
  • his legitimate or illegitimate minor child (whether married or not),
  • his legitimate or illegitimate major children(not being a married daughter) who by reason of any mental or physical abnormality or injury.
  • his father or mother,
Are unable to maintain himself or herself, then judicial magistrate of first class may order such person to provide a monthly maintenance to these people, after obtaining proof of the neglect or refusal.

It is available to persons belonging to all religions and have no relationship with the personal laws of the parties.[1] In the famous Shah Bano case[2],the court ruled that muslim women are also entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of Crpc. Even the then Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud remarked in that Case that a common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law which have conflicting ideologies . Section 125 is a reflection of the idea of Uniform Civil Code.

Fundamental duties, DPSPs and obligation towards welfare of citizens

Every citizen of India is fundamentally duty-bound to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievements. Directive Principles of State Policy too enshrine the idea of promoting welfare of people. They were added to the Indian Constitution to make sure the laws and administration is being carried out with a fervour to protect and help people all over the country.

Article 38 provides for the State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people. One way to promote this welfare is by the means of removing disparities with respect to justice served in cases civil cases relating to personal laws. Therefore, article 44 presents the concept of Uniform Civil Code which unifies the personal laws for people belonging to different religions and ensures that the scale of justice remains balanced.

Uniform Civil Code

As given in Article 44 of the Constitution of India, The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) calls for the formulation of one law for India, which would be applicable to all religious communities in matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption. The objective of Article 44 of the Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution was to address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural groups across the country.

Dr. B R Ambedkar, while formulating the Constitution had said that a UCC is desirable but for the moment it should remain voluntary, and thus the Article 35 of the draft Constitution was added as a part of the Directive Principles of the State Policy in part IV of the Constitution of India as Article 44. It was incorporated in the Constitution as an aspect that would be fulfilled when the nation would be ready to accept it and the social acceptance to the UCC could be made.

Personal laws apply to a certain group of people based on their religion, caste, faith, and belief made after due consideration of customs and religious texts. The UCC aims to provide protection to vulnerable sections as envisaged by Ambedkar including women and religious minorities, while also promoting nationalistic fervour through unity. The code will simplify the complex laws around marriage ceremonies, inheritance, succession, adoptions making them one for all.

The same civil law will then be applicable to all citizens irrespective of their faith.
However, Freedom of religion gets into conflict with the right to equality. In 2018, a report by the Law Commission of India stated that the Uniform Civil Code is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage in the country. The Commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country. Also the minorities fears that In the name of uniformity, the culture of the majority is being imposed over them.

Case Laws
  1. Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum [3]

    This served as a landmark judgement in the history of UCC. In the year 1985, the apex court through this judgement emphasised the need for UCC. In this case, a 62 years old muslim woman, a mother of five, was kicked out of her matrimonial house after her husband gave her triple talaq/ talaq-e-biddat. She appealed in court to obtain maintenance from her husband under section 125 of CrPC. The court observed that she is entitled to get maintenance under the said provision . Justice Y.V. Chandrachud observed that this provision provides remedy irrespective of which personal laws govern an individual.

    However, the then Rajiv Gandhi government overruled this decision and passed Muslim Women (Protection of rights on divorce) Act,1986 and curtailed the rights of muslim women to obtain maintenance under sec 125. He implied that the court passed the order merely to enact UCC and which is not binding on the Government and that there should be no interference in the personal laws unless there is a demand from within.

  2. Danial Latifi v Union of India [4]

    In this case, the Muslim Women (Protection of rights on divorce) Act,1986 was challenged. The judgement in this case basically revived the principles settled in this Shah Bano case, that the husband's liability to maintain the wife doesn't end with iddat period. However, it explained this principle not as contravening the Act which was enacted as the result of the case, as a commentary on that act. Also the Act is consistent with the section 125 and hence, there is no conflict.

People over time has had reservations regarding the Code, the fear of of the minority can not be overlooked but rather the implementation has to be in such a manner that it removes their fears of being overshadowed by the laws of majority. In the state of Goa, UCC already exists and thus people of different beliefs are governed by a unified and codified set of personal laws. The muslim man married under those laws can't commit bigamy.

The inspiration can be taken from Goa's model. Hence ,the UCC must carve a balance between the protection of fundamental rights and religious dogmas of individuals. It should be a code, which is just and proper according to a man of ordinary prudence, without any bias with regards to religious and political considerations.

  • Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
  • D.D. Basu's Introduction to the Constitution of India
  • M. Laxmikanth's Indian Polity

  1. Nanak Chandra v. Chandra Kishore Aggarwal,(1969) 3SCC 802 :1970 SCC (Cri) 127, 129-30: Cri LJ 522
  2. Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, (1985) 2 SCC 556 :1985 SCC (Cri) 245 :1985 Cri LJ 875
  3. (1985) 2 SCC 556 :1985 SCC (Cri) 245 :1985 Cri LJ 875
  4. (2007) 7 SCC 740: 2001 Cri LJ 4660

    Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Shreya Aggarwal
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