Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 16
Maintaining that the progress of any society depended on its ability to protect and promote the rights of women, the Supreme Court has clarified the legal position on “shared household” under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 that has often been a matter of dispute between woman victims of and their in-laws’ families.
Giving a liberal interpretation to “shared household”, a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan ruled a woman was entitled to claim right to residence in a “shared household” where she had been living with her husband even if the said house belonged to his relatives.
“In event, the shared household belongs to any relative of the husband with whom in a domestic relationship the woman has lived, the conditions mentioned in Section 2(s) (of The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005) are satisfied and the said house will become a shared household”, it said.
However, the top court said, the DV Act didn’t operate against the landlord who would be free to initiate appropriate proceedings for eviction of the tenants of the “shared household”. But here again the woman can oppose it on the ground of collusion between the tenants and landlord.
The verdict came on a petition challenging a Delhi High Court order quashing a trial court decision allowing eviction of a woman from the first floor of her father-in-law’s house. Initially, she lived on the first floor of the house but later shifted to the ground floor with her husband. Thereafter, her husband sought divorce and she filed an application under the DV Act against her husband and in-laws.
The top court overruled a 2006 verdict of a two-judge Bench in SR Batra versus Taruna Batra that had restrained a woman from claiming right to live in the house belonging to her mother-in-law on the ground that the hosue in question was not her husband’s.
Noting that the 2006 judgment was not the correct interpretation of law, the top court said, “The right of occupation of matrimonial home, which was not so far part of the statutory law in India, came to be included in Act, 2005.”
Hailing the DV Act, 2005 as “a milestone for protection of women in this country”, the Bench said, “The progress of any society depends on its ability to protect and promote the rights of its women.”
Noting that domestic violence was rampant in this country, the court said, “The reason why most cases of domestic violence are never reported is due to the social stigma of the society and the attitude of the women themselves, where women are expected to be subservient, not just to their male counterparts but also to the male’s relatives.”