15 Oct 2020 1:16 PM GMT
The Supreme Court has held that the pendency of proceedings under Domestic Violence Act or any Residence order interim or final, passed under it, is not an embargo for initiating or continuing any civil proceedings, which relate to the subject matter of such orders/proceedings.The order passed under D.V. Act whether interim or final shall be relevant and have to be given weight as one of...
The Supreme Court has held that the pendency of proceedings under Domestic Violence Act or any Residence order interim or final, passed under it, is not an embargo for initiating or continuing any civil proceedings, which relate to the subject matter of such orders/proceedings.
The order passed under D.V. Act whether interim or final shall be relevant and have to be given weight as one of evidence in the civil suit but the evidentiary value of such evidence is limited, the three judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan observed.
In this case, Satish Chander Ahuja filed a Suit against his daughter in law [ the sole-defendant ] for mandatory and permanent injunction and also for recovery of damages/mesne profit. In the plaint, he pleaded that defendant has filed a complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 in which interim order directing the plaintiff not to alienate and not to dispossess the defendant without order of the competent court has been passed. He further pleaded that the status of occupation of defendant as a daughter-in-law during subsistence of marriage with the son could be said to be permissive in nature and defendant is not entitled to claim a right of residence against the plaintiff, i.e., her father-in-law who has no obligation to maintain her during the lifetime of her husband. In the written statement, the daughter in law claimed that the suit property is a shared household as per provision of Section 2(s) of the Act, 2005, and thus she has right to stay/reside in the shared household. The trial court decreed the suit filed by Ahuja by allowing his application filed under Order XII Rule 6 CPC., taking note of the admission made by the defendant in her pleadings filed in the domestic violence case that the plaintiff to be the owner of the suit property. The High Court, while setting aside the Trial Court judgment, observed that question the suit could not have been simply decreed by the Trial Court on the basis of the title without weighing the effect of the statutory right in favour of the the daughter in law. The High Court, remanded the case back to Trial Court by issuing some directions.
In appeal, the Apex Court bench, also comprising Justices R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, considered the effect of an interim order or a final order passed under Section 19 of the Act, 2005 on a civil proceeding initiated in a court of competent jurisdiction. It also considered the issue whether in view of the pendency of proceedings under the D.V. Act any proceedings could not have been initiated in a Civil Court of competent jurisdiction or whether the orders passed under D.V. Act giving right of residence by interim or final order are binding in Civil Court proceedings and Civil court could not have taken any decision contrary to directions issued in D.V. Act? Another relevant issues considered were (a) Whether the plaintiff in the suit giving rise to this appeal can be said to be the respondent as per definition of Section 2(q) of Act, 2005 ?(c) Whether the husband of aggrieved party (defendant) is necessary party in the suit filed by the plaintiff against the defendant?
Regarding the issue (a),
"We, thus, are of the view that for the purposes of determination of right of defendant under Sections 17 and 19 read with Section 26 in the suit in question the plaintiff can be treated as "respondent", but for the grant of any relief to the defendant or for successful resisting the suit of the plaintiff necessary conditions for grant of relief as prescribed under the Act, 2005 has to be pleaded and proved by the defendant, only then the relief can be granted by the Civil Court to the defendant."
Referring to the statutory provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, the bench observed that the initiation of the proceedings in Civil Court and relief available under Section 19 of the Act, 2005 is contemplated by the statutory scheme delineated by the Act, 2005
Section 17(2) itself contemplates eviction or exclusion of aggrieved person from a shared household in accordance with the procedure established by law. The conclusion is inescapable that a proceeding in a 121 competent court for eviction or exclusion is contemplated by the Statutory Scheme of Act, 2005. Thus, there is neither any express nor implied bar in initiation of civil proceedings in a Court of competent jurisdiction. Further, Section 26 also contemplate grant of relief of right of residence under Section 19 in any legal proceedings before a Civil Court or Family Court or Criminal Court affecting the aggrieved person. The proceedings might be initiated by aggrieved person or against the aggrieved person herself before or after the commencement of Act, 2005. Thus, initiation of the proceedings in Civil Court and relief available under Section 19 of the Act, 2005 is contemplated by the statutory scheme delineated by the Act, 2005.
On conjoint reading of Sections 12(2), 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26 and 28 of the D.V. Act, it can safely be said that the proceedings under the D.V. Act and proceedings before a civil court, family court or a criminal court, as mentioned in Section 26 of the D.V. Act are independent proceedings, like the proceedings under Section 125 of the Cr. P.C. for maintenance before the Magistrate and/or family court and the proceedings for maintenance before a civil court/ family court for the reliefs under the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act. However, as observed hereinabove, the findings/orders passed by the one forum has to be considered by another forum.
While upholding the High Court judgment, the bench concluded as follows:
Case: SATISH CHANDER AHUJA vs. SNEHA AHUJA [CIVIL APPEAL NO.2483 of 2020 ]Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR ShahCounsel: Adv Prabhjit Jauhar, Sr. Adv Nidhesh Gupta. [Sr. Adv Geeta Luthra and Sr. Adv Jayant Bhushan in connected matter]
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