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

Ashok KM
12 May 2022 4:55 PM GMT
Every Woman In A Domestic Relationship Can Enforce Right To Reside In Shared Household Even In Absence Of Any Domestic Violence: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that 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.

She cannot be evicted, excluded or thrown out from such a household even in the absence of there being any form of domestic violence, the bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna observed.

The Court added that such a right can be enforced under Section 17(1) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, irrespective of whether she is an aggrieved person or not.

The bench was considering an appeal that arose out of an application under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act by a woman, after the death of her husband, against her mother-in-law and father-in-law, seeking residence order to reside in the property of her late husband, return of streedhan etc. Though the Magistrate granted some relief, ultimately the Uttarakhand High Court held that in order to establish that the respondents had committed violence as contemplated under the D.V. Act, it is required that the aggrieved person was sharing a household with the respondents and there was a domestic relationship between the parties. The reports of the Supreme Court judgment allowing appeal can be read here.

In the judgment, the court has discussed the scope of right of residence under Section 17 of the DV Act.

The court observed that the expression contained in Section 17 namely, 'every woman in a domestic relationship shall have the right to reside in the shared household irrespective whether she has any right, title or beneficial interest in same', requires an expansive interpretation. The court noted that though the expression 'shared household' is defined in the context of a household where the person aggrieved lives or has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with respondent, in the context of Sub-Section (1) of Section 17, the said expression cannot be restricted only to a household where a person aggrieved resides or at any stage, resided in a domestic relationship.

"In other words, a woman in a domestic relationship who is not aggrieved, in the sense that who has not been subjected to an act of domestic violence by the respondent, has a right to reside in a shared household. Thus, a mother, daughter, sister, wife, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law or such other categories of women in a domestic relationship have the right to reside in a shared household dehors a right, title or beneficial interest in the same. Therefore, the right of residence of the aforesaid categories of women and such other categories of women in a domestic 39 relationship is guaranteed under Sub-Section (1) of Section 17 and she cannot be evicted, excluded or thrown out from such a household even in the absence of there being any form of domestic violence. By contrast, Sub-Section (2) of section 17 deals with a narrower right in as much as an aggrieved person who is inevitably a woman and who is subjected to domestic violence shall not be evicted or excluded from the shared household or any part of it by the respondent except in accordance with the procedure established by law. Thus, the expression 'right to reside in a shared household' has to be given an expansive interpretation, in respect of the aforesaid categories of women including a mother-in-law of a daughter-in-law and other categories of women referred to above who have the right to reside in a shared household."


Right of a woman to reside in the shared household is of unique importance

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.

The bench concluded its discussion about the scope of right to residence as follows:

Every woman in a domestic relationship can enforce her right to reside in a shared household irrespective of whether she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same and the said right could be enforced by any woman under the said provision as an independent right in addition to the orders that could be passed under Section 19 of the D.V. Act; also an aggrieved woman who has the right to reside in the shared household is protected by Sub-Section (2) of the Section 17 of the D.V. Act.


Case details

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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