The Bombay High Court on Tuesday gave a stern warning to one Sarita Somkuwar, a woman accused by her own elderly mother of torturing her both mentally and physically, that if there is even one more complaint of harassment, she will not be allowed to enter the flat where she is residing with her 19-year-old son and mother.
Division bench of Justice SJ Kathawalla and Justice SP Tavade heard the writ petition filed by 70-year-old Rajni Somkuwar who alleged that her daughter Sarita, who is a divorcee and is forcefully residing in her flat with her 19-year-old son and tortures her both mentally and physically. Rajni sought her daughter's eviction from the said flat.
Previously, the petitioner mother filed an application under Section 4 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 before Sub Divisional Officer, Maintenance Tribunal for Parents and Senior Citizens, on March 16, 2020 seeking Sarita's eviction from the said Flat. However due to the lockdown, the Tribunal was not available to decide her application, thus the present writ petition was filed.
According to the petitioner, ever since she was a teenager Sarita was indulging in wrongful acts and had friends with a criminal background. The petitioner and her husband constantly tried to make Sarita see sense, and would often reprimand her with regard to her conduct. However, Sarita never paid any heed to their advice and was always rebellious.
In 1998, Sarita absconded with her male friend Ritesh Devkar who also had a criminal background. She got married to him and started living at Vasai. Around February 2000, Ritesh was arrested in connection with a scam, on allegations of defrauding poor people, by collecting certain amounts on a promise to secure them jobs in Dubai.
Due to constant fights between Sarita and Ritesh, Ritesh fled from their mortgaged house in Vasai abandoning Sarita and their infant son. Sarita then approached her sister Kavita, who was for help, as she was afraid to approach her parents knowing that they were always against her wrongful activities. At the instance of Kavita, the petitioner and her husband allowed Sarita to live with them in the said Flat for a few days, i.e. till she found a suitable place to live.
However, even after securing a job at HDFC bank, Sarita refused to leave the said flat. Instead she started instigating her sister Kranti against the petitioner and her husband and tried to create differences between the family members. The petitioner;s husband asked his daughter Sarita to leave the said flat. Instead of leaving the said flat, Sarita threatened her father saying that, "if you force me to leave the house then I will lodge a police complaint against you that you are molesting me".
The harassment continued and once Sarita assaulted her father by intentionally spilling milk on the floor due to which the petitioner's husband slipped and fractured his leg. He ultimately passed away on January 26, 2011.
After her father's death, Sarita is said to have intensified her harassment towards her mother, by repeatedly making demands for money, which the petitioner could not afford.
Finally in February, 2020, petitioner's daughter Vaishali came to India from Singapore and after visiting the petitioner, she was shocked to see her condition. The petitioner gathered the courage to speak to Vaishali about her plight and what she had to undergo at the hands of Sarita, when nobody was around. The petitioner narrated how Sarita would beat her up, make her remain without clothes and give her food only once a day and snatch away her plate whilst she was still eating.
Thus, on February 22, 2020, an FIR was filed against Sarita at Samata Nagar Police Station, Mumbai, by the petitioner with Vaishali's help.
Advocate Shyam Dewani along with Sahil Dewani appeared on behalf of the petitioner and Advocate Amrendra Mishra for Sarita.
Mishra refuted the allegations of the petitioner and submitted that it is his client's sister Vaishali, who is instigating the mother against her, since she wants Sarita to leave the said flat, where she has been residing since the last 20 years.
The bench spoke to the petitioner, her youngest daughter Vaishali and also with Sarita via video conferencing. Court said-
"We are not at all convinced that the mother has filed an Application under Section 4 of the Act before Respondent No.2 Tribunal at the instance of Vaishali. After talking to the Petitioner mother, we have gathered an impression that she seriously apprehends physical and mental harassment and consequently, threat to her life at the hands of Sarita, if she goes to reside in her own Flat without Sarita being evicted from the same.
However, in view of the pandemic and the consequent problems that individuals are facing, we are today not passing an order directing Sarita to make alternate arrangements. However, we hereby give a stern warning to Sarita, as well as her son, that if either of them cause any harassment to the Petitioner making it difficult for her to reside in her own Flat, we will forthwith restrain them from entering the said Flat in which the Petitioner is residing notwithstanding that Sarita may be having a small share in the said Flat, as the heir of her father."
Court directed the senior inspector of the concerned local police station to provide any assistance required by the petitioner and observed-
"We would like to make it extremely clear that if children cannot take care of their parent/s and allow them to live in peace, they atleast ought not to make their life a living hell."
The petitioner as well as Sarita were granted liberty to install CCTV cameras in all common areas of the flat except bedrooms and bathrooms. The next date of hearing is June 16.
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