NCW, women’s groups hail order, say it will ensure gender equality

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NEW DELHI: Welcoming the Supreme Court judgement affirming the right of Muslim women to seek maintenance under the secular law (section 125 CrPC), the National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma said the decision is a “significant step towards ensuring gender equality and justice for all women, regardless of their religion”.
“It reinforces the principle that no woman should be left without support and protection under the law.The NCW remains committed to advocating for the rights of women and ensuring that justice prevails for every woman in India,” Sharma said.
Women’s rights activist Zakia Soman, who is co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and has been at the forefront in raising a voice for securing the rights of Muslim women said, “this judgment is truly progressive and I welcome it wholeheartedly.” “It is ironic that maintenance rights granted under 125 Cr Pc were snatched away from Muslim women during Shah Bano in 1985. It has taken nearly 4 decades for this travesty to be corrected by the judgment of Justice Nagarathna and Justice Masih. Every woman has a right to maintenance as observed by Justice Nagarathna and Muslim women cannot be excluded from this provision,” Soman added.
She further stated that women have been demanding reforms in personal laws for a long time. “This judgment is a positive step towards upholding equality in marriage and family. Left to themselves personal laws rooted in patriarchy would never grant adequate rights to women. This judgment upholds the constitutional mandate of gender justice & must be celebrated,” she added.
Women’s rights activist and director of Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari told TOI that “this is a very welcome development that should have happened long ago when the Shah Bano case happened. At that time, justice was averted when Parliament passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, effectively overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in the Shah Bano case. This Act limited the application of Section 125 CrPC, which ensures maintenance for women, regardless of religion.”
“The latest Supreme Court judgement rectifies this historical oversight, reinforcing that Section 125 CrPC is universally applicable. This legal assertion is crucial as it empowers Muslim women to seek alimony and maintenance, ensuring their financial security, especially for those with children,” Kumar added.
She feels that this judgement “not only upholds the principle of equality before the law but also strengthens the protection of women’s rights across all communities”.
All India Democratic Women’s Association general secretary Mariam Dhawale said that it was a welcome judgement as they have been all along advocating for maintenance rights for Muslim women at par with others.

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