“If you want something said ask a man, if you want something done ask a women”. Women, a simple looking word from the English dictionary is the most complex and corroborative structural link of human race. But, according to the constitution of India women and children are said to be as the most vulnerable segment of society. Article 15(3) provides the state to make special provisions for women and children in any matter and these special provisions will be based upon the reasonable classification doctrine of ‘equal to equals’.
But it has also seen so many times that they are being treated unequally and their rights are getting hampered. With this view the apex court of India from time to time gave so many landmark judgements to restore the condition of women in the Indian society and to reach a complete gender justice.
Some of the landmark judgements on women rights include-
- Ahmad khan v. Shah Bano Begum (1985) – This was the very first case in which Supreme Court granted a Muslim women maintenance under section 125 of Code of criminal procedure,(CrPC) 1973. As a result of this judgement The Muslim (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 was passed. Yet this act was controversial with some of its ambiguities regarding the maintenance but this judgement was a milestone in the arena of gender justice.
- Githa Hariharan v. Union of India (1999) – This was the most important judgement in which the apex court said that a women can be the natural guardian of a Hindu minor. As a result a Hindu Women can be named natural guardian in official documents. This judgement was a tight slap on the patriarchal society and its unequal treatment towards women.
- Danial Latifi v. Union of India (2001) – There is a concept of Iddat period in Muslim law which is seemed to be the time period of maintenance but in this landmark judgement the apex court held that maintenance for Muslim women is not confined to the Iddat period. As a result Muslim women can seek maintenance beyond Iddat period.
- Khatoon Nisa v. State of Uttar Pradesh (2002) – On 14th August 2002, Supreme Court in this case said that magistrate has the power to grant maintenance in favour of a divorced woman and as a result magistrates can grant orders of maintenance under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- Shabnam Hashmi v. Union of India (2014) – On Feb 2014, honourable Supreme Court in this landmark judgement said that adoption provisions under Juvenile Justice Act will not be in conflict with personal laws. As a result it was held that personal laws would not bar Muslim women from adopting under juvenile justice act.
- Vishwa Mohan Lochan v. Union of India (2014) – “Fatwa” is something which is always in a position of controversy with the law of the land. On 7th April 2014, the apex court said fatwas and similar decisions issued by institutions will not carry the force of law. As a result, Orders issued by Khap panchayat or Muslim clerics were held constitutional and judicially derecognized.
- Shamim Bano v. Ashraf Khan (2014) – There was always a controversy in the judicial arena that whether even after the act of 1986 i.e., The Muslim (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 the Muslim women can seek maintenance under sec 125 Cr.PC. This answer was given by the apex court in this landmark judgement, in this case honourable Supreme Court held that a Muslim woman has the right for maintenance not restricted by her choosing to apply for divorce under Muslim Women Act. She can either file under the act or under CrPC 125.
- Shamima Farooqi v. Shahid Khan (2015) – On 6th April 2015, honourable Supreme Court stated that Muslim women could get maintenance beyond the Iddat period. The apex court up held the decision of “Danial Latifi v. Union of India” and re-emphasised its decision. As a result it was held that the concept of Iddat has nothing to do with maintenance.
- Albert Anthony v. Union of India (2015) – In this case honourable Apex court on 13th July, 2015 asked centre to decide if Christian divorce law to be amended to reduce waiting period before filing for divorce from two years to one. As a result, the government cleared a proposal to reduce the waiting period.
- Shaiyra Bano v. Union of India (2017) – In this very famous and recent judgement by the apex court in 2017, honourable supreme court held that the most cruel practice of divorce under Muslim law i.e., the practice of Triple Talaq (Divorce by pronouncing Talaq 3 times) was held unconstitutional.
So, In a nutshell it can be understood by these cases that there has been always a need of the hour to stop injustice to evolve and honourable Supreme Court has understood this need very efficiently and with its judgements it also proved that “injustice anywhere is the threat to justice everywhere”.
By Tanay Akash