Mr. Rebates

Friday, December 24, 2010

More relief under Domestic Violence Act

Dec 23, 2010

In A verdict that may accord a major reprieve to women under the Domestic Violence Act, the Delhi High Court has ruled that a complainant’s right to residence is not confined only to cases where her husband owns or partly owns a property, but also in cases where other respondents, like her mother-in-law, is the owner.
Justice S Ravindra Bhat said it is necessary to give a “liberal” meaning to sections of the welfare legislation to broaden the ambit of relief, as “confining it would inevitably lead to defeating the object of the law”.
“The introduction of the remedy... is a revolutionary step, taken to further the objective of the Act. Any attempt at restricting the scope would reduce the effectiveness of the Act itself. Therefore, it would be contrary to the objective of the Act to restrict its application only to such cases where the husband owns a property or has a share in it, as the mother-in-law can also be a respondent in the proceedings under the Domestic Violence Act and remedies available under the same Act would necessarily need to be enforced against her,” said Justice Bhat.
Going against the general view of the courts in the country that a “shared household” should not encompass a property owned by the husband’s parents, the judge said the concept of a “shared household” should derive its meaning from the factum of “domestic relationship” and hence, a woman must have a right of residence in case the couple lived along with the husband’s parents in the matrimonial house. “Hence no investigation into the ownership of the said household is necessary, as per the definition,” the court noted.
Holding that a woman relative, like a mother-in-law or a sister-in-law, could be made “respondents” in the complaint, Justice Bhat said there was no bar against claiming relief against them, so reprieve could be sought against the house owned by a mother-in-law or any other female relative.
Justice Bhat passed the ruling while deciding the two petitions filed by a woman and her mother-in-law against each other. While the woman sought the right to residence and maintenance from her husband and mother-in-law under the Act, the mother-in-law had filed a case to evict her and the husband from the house owned by her at South Extension Part II, claiming that the complainant had no right to residence in the property as she was its sole owner.
Justice Bhat, however, refused to entertain the argument, noting that as the couple had lived in the house till the discord happened, hence it was to be considered a “shared household” for all purposes of the law. The complainant was thus entitled to residence in a property commensurate with her lifestyle and her current residence, said the court, directing her husband to pay Rs 30,000 as rent and another Rs 45,000 towards maintenance every month.
The court also made it clear that the woman could continue residing in the mother-in-law’s house till the time an alternative accommodation was provided by her husband.

Source: Indianexpress

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