Woman cannot be ousted from matrimonial home just for peace of mind of her in-laws: Bombay High Court

Latest News

The Bombay High Court recently held that a woman cannot be ousted from her matrimonial house and rendered homeless only to preserve the peace of mind of her elderly in-laws.

Justice Sandeep Marne clarified that senior citizens are entitled to live with peace of mind, but added that they cannot invoke their rights in way that defeats the rights of a woman under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

“No doubt, senior citizens are entitled to reside in their own house with peace and without any disturbance on account of marital discord between Petitioner (daughter-in-law) and her husband. But at the same time, the machinery under Senior Citizens Act cannot be used for the purpose defeating right of a woman under Section 17 of the DV Act,” the Court explained.

The Court made the observation while quashing an order passed by a tribunal dealing with cases under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, which ordered the eviction of a woman (petitioner) from her matrimonial house on a complaint by her in-laws.

The petitioner before the Court and her husband married around 27 years ago and were living in the shared household belonging to the petitioner’s in-laws.

Amid some matrimonial discord between the spouses, the tribunal passed an order in 2023 directing the couple to vacate the flat.

The petitioner’s husband, however, did not vacate the premises and continued to live with his parents.

This led the Court to believe that the eviction proceedings initiated by the woman’s in-laws was only a ploy to ensure the ouster of their daughter-in-law.

“She has no other place to reside. Therefore, she cannot be rendered homeless to ensure peace of mind of the senior citizens,” the Court held.

The Court further noted that despite six months having been passed since the eviction order, the husband had not made any arrangement for his own separate residence.

The Court pointed out that if the husband had a separate residence, the wife would have been entitled to protection from being ousted from such accommodation (owned by her husband).

The Court, however, added that this cannot be taken to mean that a woman living with her in-laws has less protection.

“Does it mean that a wife staying separately from her in-laws enjoys better protection than the one who chooses to reside in a joint family with her in-laws? The answer to the question would obviously be in the negative. Therefore, where such a situation arises when a contest is noticed between the rights of senior citizens and a woman, balancing act needs to be done and the rights of the senior citizens cannot be decided in isolation,” the Court explained.

The High Court ultimately quashed the tribunal’s eviction order.

It also noted that a plea filed by the petitioner-woman under the Domestic Violence Act for a right to remain in the shared residence was still pending before a magistrate.

Therefore, before parting with the matter, the High Court also ordered the magistrate to deal with the woman’s plea expeditiously.

Advocates Ashutosh Kulkarni, Shaheen Kapadia and Vrushali Maindad appeared for the petitioner.

Advocates Vivek Kantawala, Saumitra Salunke, Swapnali Chavan and Pradeep Yadav represented the petitioner’s In-laws.

Advocate Subhash Jha, Priti Singh, Rahul Chauhan and Abhijit Bansode represented the petitioner’s husband.

Source Link

Leave a Reply