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"Joint Family" In DV Act Means Members Living Together As Family & Not As Understood In Hindu Law : Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
24 May 2022 4:46 AM GMT
Joint Family In DV Act Means Members Living Together As Family & Not As Understood In Hindu Law : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court in the recent judgment in the case Prabha Tyagi vs Kamlesh Devi has given an expanded meaning to the expression "joint family" used in Section 2(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.

Section 2(f) of the Act defines "domestic relationship" as "a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family".

In the instant case, the scope of the term "domestic relationship" fell for the Court's consideration while examining the right of a widow to live in the "shared household" of her late husband.

A bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna expansively read "joint family" as "persons living together jointly as a family". The court held that joint family does not mean a joint family as understood in Hindu Law. It would also include those persons who are living together or jointly as a joint family such as foster children who live with other members who are related by consanguinity, marriage or by adoption.

"In the Indian societal context, the right of a woman to reside in the shared household is of unique importance. The reasons for the same are not far to see. In India, most women are not educated nor are they earning; neither do they have financial independence so as to live singly. She may be dependent for residence in a domestic relationship not only for emotional support but for the aforesaid reasons. The said relationship may be by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or is a part of or is living together in a joint family. A majority of women in India do not have independent income or financial capacity and are totally dependent vis-à-vis their residence on their male or other female relations who may have a domestic relationship with her".

"In our view, the D.V. Act is a piece of Civil Code which is applicable to every woman in India irrespective of her religious affiliation and/or social background for a more effective protection of her rights guaranteed under the Constitution and in order to protect women victims of domestic violence occurring in a domestic relationship. Therefore, the expression 'joint family' cannot mean as understood in Hindu Law. Thus, the expression 'family members living together as a joint family', means the members living jointly as a family. In such an interpretation, even a girl child/children who is/are cared for as foster children also have a right to live in a shared household and are conferred with the right under Sub-Section (1) of Section 17 of the D.V. Act. When such a girl child or woman becomes an aggrieved person, the protection of Sub-Section (2) of Section 17 comes into play".

Read other reports about the judgment :

Every Woman In A Domestic Relationship Can Enforce Right To Reside In 'Shared Household' Even In Absence Of Any Domestic Violence: Supreme Court

Prabha Tyagi vs Kamlesh Devi | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 474 | CrA 511 OF 2022 | 12 May 2022

Coram: Justice MR Shah and BV Nagarathna

Also Read : Domestic Violence Victim Can Enforce Her Right To Reside In 'Shared Household' Even If She Has Not Actually Lived There: Supreme Court

Not Mandatory For Magistrate To Consider Domestic Incident Report Before Passing Any Order In Application Filed By Aggrieved Person Herself Or Her Advocate: Supreme Court

Headnotes

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 ; Section 17,19 - It is not mandatory for the aggrieved person to have actually lived or resided with those persons against whom the allegations have been levelled at the time of seeking relief. If a woman has the right to reside in a shared household, she can accordingly enforce her right under Section 17(1) of the D.V. Act. If a woman becomes an aggrieved person or victim of domestic violence, she can seek relief under the provisions of the D.V. Act including her right to live or reside in the shared household under Section 17 read with Section 19 of the D.V. Act. (Para 52, 22-41)

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 ; Section 12 - There should be a subsisting domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the person against whom the relief is claimed vis-à-vis allegation of domestic violence. However, it is not necessary that at the time of filing of an application by an aggrieved person, the domestic relationship should be subsisting - Even if an aggrieved person is not in a domestic relationship with the respondent in a shared household at the time of filing of an application under Section 12 of the D.V. Act but has at any point of time lived so or had the right to live and has been subjected to domestic violence or is later subjected to domestic violence on account of the domestic relationship, is entitled to file an application under Section 12 of the D.V. Act. (Para 52, 42-44)

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 ; Section 12 - Not mandatory for a Magistrate to consider a Domestic Incident Report filed by a Protection Officer or service provider before passing any order- Even in the absence of a Domestic Incident Report, a Magistrate is empowered to pass both ex parte or interim as well as a final order - The Magistrate is obliged to take into consideration any Domestic Incident Report received by him when the same has been filed from the Protection Officer or the service provider in a case where the application is made to the Magistrate on behalf of the aggrieved person through a Protection Officer or a service provider. (Para 52, 45-51)

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 ; Section 17(1) - Every woman in a domestic relationship has a right to reside in the shared household even in the absence of any act of domestic violence by the respondent - She cannot be evicted, excluded or thrown out from such a household even in the absence of there being any form of domestic violence - She can accordingly enforce her right under Section 17(1) of the D.V. Act (Para 25-30,40)

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 ; Sections 2(f), 17 - The expression 'joint family' cannot be understood as understood in Hindu Law - The expression 'family members living together as a joint family', means the members living jointly as a family. In such an interpretation, even a girl child/children who is/are cared for as foster children also have a right to live in a shared household and are conferred with the right under Sub-Section (1) of Section 17 of the D.V. Act. When such a girl child or woman becomes an aggrieved person, the protection of Section 17(2) comes into play. (Para 36)

Interpretation of Statutes - Principles that govern the interpretation to be given to proviso in the context of main provision discussed. (Para 50)



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