The Supreme Court has said a woman can stay in her husband’s family home even if she is estranged from him, overruling its earlier decision.
An estranged daughter-in-law cannot be evicted by her husband or family members and she has a right to stay there under the Domestic Violence Act, said the bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah.
The apex court expanded the meaning of “shared household” under the Domestic Violence Act. It held that a woman can seek the right to stay in her in-laws’ house, where she lived for some time due to her relationship.
Domestic violence in the country is rampant and every day some women encounter violence in some form or other, the court said. Under such circumstances, a woman resigns herself to the never-ending cycle of violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner or a single woman in her lifetime.
The judgment dismissed an appeal filed by one Satish Chander Ahuja challenging a Delhi High Court judgment of 2019, which ruled that his daughter-in-law Sneha Ahuja had the right of residence even though she was in the process of divorce from her husband Raveen Ahuja.
Satish Ahuja had also appealed that his son had no share in the house as the property was his self-earned.
Interpreting the provisions under the Domestic Violence Act, the judges said: “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”.
The court also rejected the man’s appeal that his son had no share in the property at the posh New Friends Colony area of Delhi.
It said that a previous verdict of this court, SR. Batra Vs. Taruna Batra (2007), did not lay down a correct law. In this verdict, the two-judge bench held that “the wife is entitled only to claim a right under Section 17 (1) to residence in a shared household and a shared household would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member”.