September 04, 2019

Petition Filed In Supreme Court Challenges Constitutional Validity Of Section 125 Of The Criminal Procedure Code

[ by Legal Era News Network ]

Supreme Court

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutional validity of Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) on the grounds of gender inequality.

The petition was filed by one Vivek Bhatia after the Family Court of Dehradun directed him to pay a monthly allowance to his wife under Section 125 of the CrPC.

The petitioner stated that he has been obligated to pay maintenance to his divorced wife on a presumption that since he has a healthy body and a healthy mind, he must be able to maintain his wife.

He stated that the family court failed to take into account that he is merely a high school graduate with a diploma in aircraft maintenance, but is presently unemployed, while his wife is a graduate in English, sociology and psychology. She is capable of earning a living for herself but she refused to work, he stated.

He has challenged Section 125 of the CrPC on the grounds that the provision violates general equality provided under Article 14 of the Constitution and that it is contrary to Article 15 of the Constitution, is prima facie discriminatory on the ground of gender, without any reasonable classification.

His petition has stated that the scope of Section 125 of the CrPC is limited to wives only and husbands cannot claim maintenance from their well off wives.

He has stated that Section 125 proceeds on a presumption that all men have the ability to earn if they are healthy.

His petition has stated that initially the obligation of providing maintenance was put on husbands because after marriage, a woman relinquished her personal property rights. However, since this rule is no longer in force, the law on maintenance must be made “mutual and gender neutral”, his petition has argued.

He stated that in the United Kingdom, which is the source of Indian laws, maintenance laws under the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1973 are gender neutral, and even in the US, all states have gender neutral alimony laws as per which maintenance may be granted to husband or wife.

His petition has argued that while providing maintenance was solely the husband's responsibility at a certain point in time, the basic structure of our constitution is equality and thus the roles of spouses in the marriage must be reconsidered.

The petitioner has requested the court to declare Section 125 of the CrPC unconstitutional or read it down in a manner which makes it gender neutral.

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