The Supreme Court on Monday noted that a woman has the right to the residence at the houses of her mother as well as her mother-in-law and the court will not allow anyone to throw her out just because they cannot stand her.
The vacation bench comprising Justice B V Nagarathna and Justice Ajay Rastogi observed, “Sending away a woman just because you cannot stand her face will not be allowed by this court. This attitude of throwing out women from their matrimonial homes because of certain matrimonial squabbles is cracking up families.”
However, the bench also refused to give a carte blanche right of residence to the woman to live in a matrimonial house.
“If she is accused of misbehaving, then conditions can be put by court not to trouble the elders and family members in matrimonial homes,” Justice Nagarathna stated.
The petition was filed by a woman challenging a Bombay High Court order. The Bombay HC had directed the woman and her husband to vacate the house of her father-in-law who had moved the tribunal for exclusive residence at his flat under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act.
The tribunal had asked her and her husband to vacate the house and pay monthly maintenance of Rs 25,000. The woman filed a writ petition against the tribunal’s order citing her right to residence under the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act.
The high court had directed the son to provide alternative accommodation for his wife and children. However, the bench waived off the maintenance liability.
Justice Nagarathna has been vocal about the women’s right to residence in the shared household and cited her own judgment of May 12.
Supreme Court bench on May 12 expanded the ambit of shared household under DV Act and stated that woman belonging to every religion, be she a mother, daughters, sisters, wife, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law or such other categories of women in a domestic relationship, have the right to reside in a shared household.
“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, 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,” the judgment reads.
The right of residence of the aforesaid categories of women and such other categories of women in a domestic relationship is guaranteed under Sub-Section (1) of Section 17 of the Act 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, the bench had stated.
The SC bench went on to add, “In the Indian societal context, the right of a woman to reside in the shared household is of unique importance. The reasons for the same are not far to see. In India, most women are not educated nor are they earning; neither do they have financial independence so as to live singly.”
Justice Nagarathna had stated, “She may be dependent for residence in a domestic relationship not only for emotional support but for the aforesaid reasons…. 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.”