Seeking Gender Neutral Laws

Special Emphasis On Section 125, The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973

This blog is inscribed by Akanksha Tiwari.


Marriage is the key foundation of the society. It is the source of family peace and stability. Therefore, the Indian legislature and other various legislatures of the world have provided certain rights along with certain obligations on the couple i.e. husband and wife which are considered to be necessities of any stable family. It is considered to be the natural as well as moral duty of the husband to look after his wife, siblings and parents. The concept of ‘Maintenance’ in India is covered under the Code of Criminal Procedure under Section 125 to 128 and in various Personal Laws. These sections are helpful in providing a speedy, effective and inexpensive remedy against the negligent persons who either neglect or refuse to maintain the persons who are dependent on him such as his wife, children and parents. These provisions are focused at preventing starvation and homelessness which is ultimately a crime in itself. These provisions by providing an easy, speedy but limited relief ensure that the helpless dependents are not left beggared and destituted on the scrap heap of the society and thereby drive them to a life of vagrancy, immorality and can even indulge them in criminal activity for their subsistence.

The provisions 125 to 128 are applicable on all the citizens belonging to any religion and do not have any relation with the provisions of maintenance provided under various personal laws. These provisions prescribe a self-contained and speedy procedure in order to compel a man to fulfill his moral obligation which he owes to the society and maintain his wife, parents and parents.And here comes the issue of gender inequality. The law is focused on compelling on the males and not females to fulfill their obligations.In this article we would be dealing with Section125 of Code of Criminal Procedureand how it is a threat to gender equality.

Section 125, CrPC, 1973: Threat To Gender Equality

The benevolent provision of Sec. 125, Cr.P.C. is gender biased in its entirety. The provision only safeguards the interests of females and children, while it completely excludes the rights and interests of the male. Undoubtedly, the provision was brought into practice so as to protect the women, who at that time were at the lowest footing of the society, were in a miserable condition and treated as objects. It is to be noted that the provision is meant to serve the needs and not the greed of helpless. The reason these laws were made is because since ages men are considered to be strong, evil and one who used to subject women to cruelty. But, today we live in 21st Century where even men are being harassed at the hands of the women. (And this is no way implies thatthe harassment of women has stopped,neither this implies ignorance of the author towards the miserable situation of womeneven today).But guess what! When these men go to the police station in hope of justice, they are being laughed away!

However, change is the law of the nature and as the time has changed (last amendment being in 2001), it becomes the need of the hour to change the said law as well for TheConstitution of India grants equality to both men and women, thus the laws in no way should go against it by making gender biased laws.

The gender biasness of Sec. 125, Cr.P.C. is claimed because many unscrupulous women have started grossly misusing the weapon provided to them.

Following instances/ cases are mentioned to back the said contention:

1. Neeraj Aggarwal v. Veeka Aggarwal, Delhi District Court [2007]

The said case was filed by the wife seeking maintenance from her husband on the ground that she is uneducated and couldn’t maintain her. However, during the further proceedings, it was revealed that she is a n engineering graduate and is also pursuing M.B.A., so she can maintain herself very well. Thus, the Court observed that, “One must come to the court with clean hands and shouldn’t conceal the facts, no matter what. Since the lady is well educated, she can very well maintain herself and the family and there is no need for her to sustain on the mercy of her husband.”

2. Mamta Jaiswal v Rajesh Jaiswal, MP HC [2000]

In the instant case, the women was well educated and so also capable of maintaining herself. However, she chose to quit her job, remain idle at house and ask for maintenance from her husband. The Hon’ble Court here observed that, “the said provision of maintenance is to safeguard the interests of the needy women and help those who are suffering at the hands of their in-laws. And it is not meant for that army of people who themselves by choice remain at home.”

3. Firdos Mohd. Shoeb Khan v. Mohd. Shoeb Mohd. Salim Khan [2015]

In the instant case, the wife made false allegations against her in-laws that they have forced her and her husband to live separately, that she was subjected to cruelty, that the family members of her husband harassed her and tortured her physically as well as mentally for dowry. On these false grounds, the petition was filed for divorce and maintenance.. however, the truth was revealed before theHon’ble Court and thus S.A. Morey J gave a landmark judgment helding that, “people/ ladies/ wives who are well qualified and capable of maintaining themselves won’t be provided maintenance at any cost as it would lead to grave injustice.”

These authorities, though have given judgments in favour of men, indicate the various intricacies and loopholes in the criminal justice system, with special emphasis on the section 125, Cr.P.C., 1973. These also show us that how women are nowadays coming ahead of their time and putting their husbands and in-laws into miseries and leave them with no room of redressal. Other than this, there have been various instances where the women were seen exploiting their husband and in-laws with the shield of so-called protective laws for women.

With reference to Constitution of India

When we analyze the validity of the said provision in the light of Constitution of India, it is crystal clear that the section is ultravires to Article 14. The prosperous concept of equality and various rights it provides is the very foundation of Our Constitution, and hence should be the base of all other laws also. However, since only the interests of women are being protected and the miseries of men are ignored, the said section stands unconstitutional.

Problems In Interim Maintenance

In today’s world, interim maintenance is also used as a weapon to abuse the innocent people, or to be specific, innocent men. Thus, here are some of the ways through which we can fight the abovementioned issue:

  • Draw the attention of the Hon’ble Court towards the wife and her actions, rather than on you. Just divert their attention towards the faults of the wife.
  • Search and bring into limelight the concealed facts that would go against the wife.

(iii)Prove that the women are capable enough to maintain themselves, be it because of their education, qualification, job or anything valid and reasonable.

Overall, focus very well on her concealing matters, fears, loopholes and unclean hands.


In a nutshell, it can be concluded that gender neutrality in all the laws, particularly in the application of Sec. 125, Cr.P.C., is the need of the hour. What is meant by equality is the similar footing of both men and women and no section (even women) should be entitled to any special privileges especially in such cases where there are clear cases of harassment and oppression of the husband by her wife. We don’t say that the interest of women shouldn’t be safeguarded anymore. All the author intends to convey is that the laws should be such that protect the interest of the helpless and needy, irrespective of the gender. With these thoughts in mind, author seeks the concerned attention of the appropriate authorities towards this issue and make a humble plea to amend laws so as to bring them from the dark phase of gender biasness into the light and glamour of gender equality.

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