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Mere Fleeting Or Casual Living At Different Places Does Not Make A 'Shared Household' U/s 2(s) Domestic Violence Act: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
16 Oct 2020 4:40 AM GMT
Mere Fleeting Or Casual Living At Different Places Does Not Make A Shared Household U/s 2(s) Domestic Violence Act: SC [Read Judgment]
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'The living of woman in a household has to refer to a living which has some permanency'

While overruling the 2006 SR Batra judgment which had adopted restrictive interpretation of 'shared household', the Supreme Court has clarified that the 'shared household' under Section 2(s) of Domestic Violence Act means the shared household of aggrieved person where she was living at the time when application was filed or in the recent past had been excluded from the use or she is...

While overruling the 2006 SR Batra judgment which had adopted restrictive interpretation of 'shared household', the Supreme Court has clarified that the 'shared household' under Section 2(s) of Domestic Violence Act means the shared household of aggrieved person where she was living at the time when application was filed or in the recent past had been excluded from the use or she is temporarily absent. 

Mere fleeting or casual living at different places shall not make a shared household, said the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah adding that 'the living of woman in a household has to refer to a living which has some permanency'.

Section 2(s) Domestic Violence Act

The court was interpreting the term "lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship" in Section 2(s) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Section 2(s) reads as follows: "`Shared household` means a household where the person aggrieved lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent and includes such a household whether owned or tenanted either jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent, or owned or tenanted by either of them in respect of which either the aggrieved person or the respondent or both jointly or singly have any right, title, interest or equity and includes such a household which may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member, irrespective of whether the respondent or the aggrieved person has any right, title or interest in the shared household".

Apprehensions Expressed In SR Batra

In SR Batra vs. Taruna Batra, the Court had adopted a restrictive interpretation of 'shared household' apprehending that if the same is held to include houses owned by relatives of husband, then it will mean that wherever the husband and wife lived together in the past that property becomes a shared household.  It was to address this apprehension, the bench held that the wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household, and a `shared household' would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member.

Apprehensions not True

Now, the three judge bench observed that the use of the expression "at any stage has lived" immediately after words "person aggrieved lives" has been used for object different to what has been apprehended in SR Batre. The court observed that such apprehensions expressed in 2006 judgment was not 'true'. The court said:

"The expression "at any stage has lived" has been used to protect the women from denying the  benefit of right to live in a shared household on the ground that on the date when application is filed, she was excluded from possession of the house or temporarily absent. The use of the expression "at any stage has lived" is for the above purpose and not with the object that wherever the aggrieved person has lived with the relatives of husband, all such houses shall become shared household, which is not the legislative intent. The shared household is contemplated to be the household, which is a dwelling place of aggrieved person in present time. When we look into the different kinds of orders or reliefs, which can be granted on an application filed by aggrieved person, all orders contemplate providing protection to the women in reference to the premises in which aggrieved person is or was in possession. Our above conclusion is further fortified by statutory scheme as delineated by Section 19 of the Act, 2005. In event, the definition of shared household as occurring in Section 2(s) is read to mean that all houses where the  aggrieved person has lived in a domestic relationship alongwith the relatives of the husband shall become shared household, there will be number of shared household, which was never contemplated by the legislative scheme. The entire Scheme of the Act is to provide immediate relief to the aggrieved person with respect to the shared household where the aggrieved person lives or has lived. As observed above, the use of the expression "at any stage has lived" was only with intent of not denying the protection to aggrieved person merely on the ground that aggrieved person is not living as on the date of the application or as on the date when Magistrate concerned passes an order under Section 19."

The living of woman in a household has to refer to a living which has some permanency

In this context, the bench further clarified that the words "lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship" have to be given its normal and purposeful meaning. The bench further observed

The living of woman in a household has to refer to a living which has some permanency. Mere fleeting or casual living at different places shall not make a shared household. The intention of the parties and the nature of living including the nature of household have to be looked into to find out as to whether the parties intended to treat the premises as shared household or not. As noted above, Act 2005 was enacted to give a higher right in favour of woman. The Act, 2005 has been enacted to provide for more effective protection of the rights of the woman who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family. The Act has to be interpreted in a manner to effectuate the very purpose and object of the  Act. Section 2(s) read with Sections 17 and 19 of Act, 2005 grants an entitlement in favour of the woman of the right of residence under the shared household irrespective of her having any legal interest in the same or not.

Right Of Residence Not Indefeasible Right; Senior Citizens Also Entitled To Live Peacefully

The court further observed that the  the right to residence under Section 19 is not an indefeasible right of residence in shared household especially when the daughter-in-law is pitted against aged father-in-law and mother-in-law. This observation was made by the court, since, in this case, the daughter in law (respondent) had got a residence order in her favour, while the father in law had filed a suit alleging that the daughter in law was harassing his wife. It said:

"The senior citizens in the evening of their life are also entitled to live peacefully not haunted by marital discord between their son and daughter-in-law. While granting relief both in application under Section 12 of Act, 2005 or in any civil proceedings, the Court has to balance the rights of both the parties."

Case: SATISH CHANDER AHUJA vs. SNEHA AHUJA [CIVIL APPEAL NO.2483 of 2020 ]
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah
Counsel: Adv Prabhjit Jauhar, Sr. Adv Nidhesh Gupta,


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