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Day 3 – Q 1.In what ways did the Shah Bano case change the politics in India? Analyse.

1. In what ways did the Shah Bano case change the politics in India? Analyse.

शाह बानो केस ने भारत में राजनीति को किन तरीकों से बदल दिया? विश्लेषण करें।।


The Mohd. Ahmad Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum & Ors. or the Shah Bano maintenance case is seen as one of the legal milestones in battle for protection of rights of Muslim women. The petitioner asked for maintenance from her husband after he pronounced irrevocable talaq and became unaccountable for providing maintenance as per Islamic law.


The Supreme Court upheld the right to alimony in the case, however, subsequent dilution of it by the then government, through passage of Muslim Women (Protection on Rights of Divorce) Act set off a political battle which is continuing to this day.

The Act allowed maintenance to a divorced woman only during the period of iddat, or till 90 days after the divorce. This was seen as discriminatory as it denied divorced Muslim women the right to basic maintenance which women of other faiths had recourse to under secular law.

Impact on Indian politics:

  • The Act was seen as `appeasement’ of the minority community and discriminatory to non-Muslim men by the Hindu communalists.
  • It set off a chain of events that continued up to the opening of the Ram mandir, to satisfy the hindu communalists, and eventually the demolition of Babri Masjid.
  • Minority community was seen as a good vote bank by keeping them away from social reforms that could have disturbed the conservative elements. The impact can be seen even today, in dismal social indicators in Muslim community.
  • Freedom of Religion (Article 25) was given priority over Right to Equality (Article 14,15) and Right to Life (Article 21).
  • Uniform Civil code (Article 44), which was incorporated under Directive Principles of State Policy aiming for a secular society, is now seen as a threat to minority personal laws.
  • Whereas Women of other religion are being given more rights and protection against discrimination and violence, Muslim women still suffer from practices like triple talaq, nikah halala, polygamy etc. with no law to protect them.


The case laid the ground for Muslim women’s fight for equal rights in matters of marriage and divorce in regular courts, the most recent example being the Shayara Bano case in which the Supreme Court invalidated the practice of instant triple talaq.

However, unlike the previous case, this time the individual rights were given priority over the religious rights through introduction of Triple talaq bill, settling the political debate that started through the Shah Bano case.

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