Jul 3, 2023 03:52 UTC
Jul 3, 2023 at 03:52 UTC
Case Study: Smt. S. Vanitha v. The Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban District & Ors.
The right of a wife to a shared household under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 will prevail against a decree obtained by her in-laws under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
Citation: Civil Appeal No. 3822 of 2020
Date of Judgement: 15th December, 2020
Bench: Dr. Dhanajaya Y Chandrachud (J), Indu Malhotra (J), Indira Banerjee (J)
- Appellant and her husband (4th Respondent) were married on 30 May, 2002. Suit property was purchased by Appellant’s husband on 2nd May, 2002.
- On 5th October, 2006 4th Respondent sold the suit property to his father (3rd Respondent), for which consideration for sale was same as paid during 2002.
- In 2009, 4th Respondent instituted petition for divorce, which was allowed by trial judge on 5th December, 2013. However, on 14th January, 2016, High Court set aside the order of trial judge.
- 3rd Respondent constructed house on the suit property and gifted it to the 2nd Respondent (his wife) on 19th July, 2010.
- On 17 August, 2010. 2nd Respondent instituted suit against appellant seeking a permanent injunction restraining her from interfering with the possession of suit property.
- In 2015, application was filed by 2nd and 3rd Respondents before Assistant Commissioner, Bengaluru North Sub- Division, under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 for the eviction of appellant and her daughter from the suit property.
Decision of the Assistant Commissioner
Assistant Commissioner held that suit property was the self-acquired property of 3rd Respondent. Appellant was directed to vacate the premises and pay monthly maintenance of Rs 10,000/-.
Decision of the Deputy Commissioner
On 29th February, 2016, Deputy Commissioner dismissed the appeal and order to vacant the suit property was confirmed.
Decision of the Single Judge of Karnataka High Court
On 18th June, 2019 Single Judge of Karnataka High Court held that the suit premises were transferred by 3rd Respondent to 2nd Respondent (his wife) by a registered gift deed. So, appellant had no right over the suit premises and her claim for maintenance could only be asserted against the 4th Respondent (her husband).
Decision of the Division Bench of Karnataka High Court
Division Bench of Karnataka High Court held that appellant had no cause of action against the 2nd and 3rd Respondents, who owned the suit premises and Assistant Commissioner had jurisdiction to direct her eviction.
Decision of the Apex Court
Apex Court allowed the appeal by setting aside the order of eviction of appellant. Moreover, to enable the appellant to pursue her remedies under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence, 2005, respondents were restrained from disposing off the premises or from creating any right, title and interest in favour of any third party for a period of one year.
Key law points of the case
- Whether to maintain a senior citizen by children is conditional on being in possession of property of the senior citizen or upon a right of future inheritance?
The Court observed that a senior citizen, including a parent, who is unable to maintain themselves from their own earning or out of property owned by them, is entitled to make an application under Section 4(i) of The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. Section 4 recognizes a corresponding obligation on the part of the children or relative to maintain a senior citizen. However, obligation in case of relative is only when they are in possession of property of the senior citizen or would inherit property from them. But there is no such requirement in case of children.
Hence, in the case of the children of a senior citizen, the obligation to maintain a parent is not conditional on being in possession of property of the senior citizen or upon a right of future inheritance.
- Whether the suit premises constituted a “share household” within the meaning of Section 2(s) of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005?
Court referring to Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja held that the definition of “shared household” in Section 2(s) of the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is exhaustive.
Court observed that the definition of the expression “shared household‟ in Section 2(s) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 could be divided into two parts:
Part I: Means part of the expression “shared household”
- A household where the person aggrieved lives in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent or;
- At any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent.
Part II: Inclusive and extended part of the expression “share 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 or equity.
The last part of the inclusive definition is intended to extend the meaning of a shared household to a situation where the household in fact belongs to a joint family, of which the respondent is a member. So, the legislature has made it clear that though neither the respondent, nor the aggrieved person in such case may have a right, title or interest in the shared household it would irrespective fall within the ambit of the definition.
In Satish Chandra case also, it was held that Section 2(s) does not indicate that a shared household shall be one which belongs to or taken on rent by the husband. The definition of shared household given in Section 2(s) cannot be read to mean that shared household can only be that household which is household of the joint family of which husband is a member or in which husband of the aggrieved person has a share.
Hence, the suit premises was held to be constituting “share household” under Section 2(s) of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
- Can the right of a woman to secure a residence order in respect of a shared household be defeated by securing an order of eviction under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007?
Both Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 are intended to deal with salutary aspects of public welfare and interest. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was intended to provide for a remedy under the civil law which is intended to protect the woman from being victims of domestic violence and to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence in the society. This indicates that a significant object of the legislation is to provide for and recognize the rights of women to secure housing and to recognize the right of a woman to reside in a matrimonial home or a shared household, whether or not she has any title or right in the shared household.
Allowing the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and 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 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence 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 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence 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 Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007.
 Civil Appeal No. 2483 of 2020, decided on 15 October 2020.