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Summary Eviction Procedure Under Senior Citizens Act Cannot Be Invoked To Defeat Right Of Residence Of Woman In A Shared Household As Per DV Act: Supreme Court

Ashok Kini
15 Dec 2020 2:11 PM GMT
Summary Eviction Procedure Under Senior Citizens Act Cannot Be Invoked To Defeat Right Of Residence Of Woman In A Shared Household As Per DV Act: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has held that the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act has no overriding effect over the right of residence of a woman in a shared household within the meaning of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.The right of a woman to secure a residence order in respect of a shared household cannot be defeated by the simple expedient of securing an...

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The Supreme Court has held that the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act has no overriding effect over the right of residence of a woman in a shared household within the meaning of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

The right of a woman to secure a residence order in respect of a shared household cannot be defeated by the simple expedient of securing an order of eviction by adopting the summary procedure under the Senior Citizens Act, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee observed in the case S Vanitha vs. Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban District.

A senior citizen couple filed an application under the provisions of the Senior Citizens Act seeking eviction of their daughter in law and grand daughter from a residential house. This application was allowed by the Assistant Commissioner. Later, the said order was upheld by Deputy Commissioner in appeal. The Karnataka High Court, upheld these orders by dismissing writ petitions filed by daughter in law. Before the Apex Court, the daughter in law contended that, she cannot be evicted from her shared household, in view of the protection offered by Section 17 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. Relying on recent decision in Satish Chander Ahuja vs Sneha Ahuja, she further contended that the authorities constituted under the Senior Citizens Act 2007 had no jurisdiction to order her eviction. To know more about the background, read this report.

The bench noted the Legislative scheme of both the legislations. Referring to the provisions of the Senior Citizens Act, the bench said:

"The Tribunal under the Senior Citizens Act 2007 may have the authority to order an eviction, if it is necessary and expedient to ensure the maintenance and protection of the senior citizen or parent. Eviction, in other words would be an incident of the enforcement of the right to maintenance and protection. However, this remedy can be granted only after adverting to the competing claims in the dispute. It is necessary to recapitulate that the situation in the present case is that the eviction was sought of the daughter-in-law, i.e. the appellant. "

The court further noted that Section 3 of Senior Citizens Act observed that its provisions will have effect, notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other enactment and that the principles of statutory interpretation dictate that in the event of two special acts containing non obstante clauses, the later law shall typically prevail. But, the court said, in the event of a conflict between special acts, the dominant purpose of both statutes would have to be analyzed to ascertain which one should prevail over the other. The bench made the following observations: 


Allowing the Senior Citizens Act 2007 to have an overriding force and effect in all situations, irrespective of competing entitlements of a woman to a right in a shared household within the meaning of the PWDV Act 2005, would defeat the object and purpose which the Parliament sought to achieve in enacting the latter legislation. The law protecting the interest of senior citizens is intended to ensure that they are not left destitute, or at the mercy of their children or relatives. Equally, the purpose of the PWDV Act 2005 cannot be ignored by a sleight of statutory interpretation.

Both sets of legislations have to be harmoniously construed. Hence the right of a woman to secure a residence order in respect of a shared household cannot be defeated by the simple expedient of securing an order of eviction by adopting the summary procedure under the Senior Citizens Act 2007.

"This Court is cognizant that the Senior Citizens Act 2007 was promulgated with a view to provide a speedy and inexpensive remedy to senior citizens. Accordingly, Tribunals were constituted under Section 7. These Tribunals have the power to conduct summary procedures for inquiry, with all powers of the Civil Courts, under Section 8. The jurisdiction of the Civil Courts has been explicitly barred under Section 27 of the Senior Citizens Act 2007. However, the over-riding effect for remedies sought by the applicants under the Senior Citizens Act 2007 under Section 3, cannot be interpreted to preclude all other competing remedies and protections that are sought to be conferred by the PWDV Act 2005. The PWDV Act 2005 is also in the nature of a special legislation, that is enacted with the purpose of correcting gender discrimination that pans out in the form of social and economic inequities in a largely patriarchal society.

In deference to the dominant purpose of both the legislations, it would be appropriate for a Tribunal under the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to grant such remedies of maintenance, as envisaged under S.2(b) of the Senior Citizens Act 2007 that do not result in obviating competing remedies under  other special statutes, such as the PWDV Act 2005. Section 26/27 of the PWDV Act empowers certain reliefs, including relief for a residence order, to be obtained from any civil court in any legal proceedings. Therefore, in the event that a composite dispute is alleged, such as in the present case where the suit premises are a site of contestation between two groups protected by the law, it would be appropriate for the Tribunal constituted under the Senior Citizens Act 2007 to appropriately mould reliefs, after noticing the competing claims of the parties claiming under the PWDV Act 2005 and Senior Citizens Act 2007."

Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 cannot be deployed to over-ride and nullify other protections in law, particularly that of a woman's right to a "shared household‟ under Section 17 of the PWDV Act 2005. In the event that the "aggrieved woman" obtains a relief from a Tribunal constituted under the Senior Citizens Act 200, she shall duty-bound to inform the Magistrate under the PWDV Act 2005, as per Sub-section (3) of Section 26 of the PWDV Act 2005. This course of action would ensure that the common intent of the Senior Citizens Act 2007 and the PWDV Act 2005- of ensuring speedy relief to its protected groups who are both vulnerable members of the society, is effectively realized. Rights in law can translate to rights in life, only if there is an equitable ease in obtaining their realization."

Observing thus, the bench set aside the eviction order passed by the Assistant Commissioner. The court further observed:

"The fact that specific proceedings under the PWDV Act 2005 had not been instituted when the application under the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 was filed, should not lead to a situation where the enforcement of an order of eviction deprives her from pursuing her claim of entitlement under the law. The inability of a woman to access judicial remedies may, as this case exemplifies, be a consequence of destitution, ignorance or lack of resources."


Case: S Vanitha vs. Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban District [Civil Appeal No. 3822 of 2020]
Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee
Counsel: Adv Yatish Mohan, Adv Rajesh Mahale 

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