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SC: woman has Right of residence in shared premises of in-laws

By Astha Joshi-

A three-judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and M R Shah of the top court said on Thursday that a woman has a right to residence in a shared household where she has been living with her husband, even if it belongs to his relatives.

The appellant has filed the plea to evict his daughter-in-law from his property in New Friends Colony.

The court said, “In event, the shared household belongs to any relative of the husband with whom in a domestic relationship the woman has lived, the conditions mentioned in Section 2(s) (of The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005) are satisfied and the said house will become a shared household.”

When the appellant’s son and his daughter-in-law’s relation turned sour, they started living separately on a different floor. The son had filed a divorce suit and his wife a case under the Domestic Violence Act against her husband and relatives.

The court, in the woman’s favour, said, “The domestic violence in this country is rampant and several women encounter violence in some form or the other or almost every day, however, it is the least reported form of cruel behaviour”.

“A woman resigns her fate to the never-ending cycle of enduring violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner, or a single woman in her lifetime”.

This non-retaliation by women coupled with the absence of laws addressing women’s issues, ignorance of the existing laws enacted for women, and societal attitude makes the women vulnerable”.

“The reason why most cases of domestic violence are never reported is due to the social stigma of the society and the attitude of the women themselves, where women are expected to be subservient, not just to their male counterparts but also to the male’s relatives.”

Highlighting the need for the right to residence in a matrimonial house, the court said that previously the reliefs granted to women in such matters were limited and not quick ones.

The bench said, “The right of occupation of matrimonial home, which was not so far part of the statutory law in India came to be included in Act, 2005.” The court called it “a milestone for protection of women in this country.”

While upholding the High Court’s judgment, the top court also said, “The pendency of proceedings under Act, 2005 or any order interim or final passed under D.V. Act under Section 19 regarding right of residence is not an embargo for initiating or continuing any civil proceedings, which relate to the subject matter of order interim or final passed in proceedings under D.V. Act, 2005.”