Estranged woman can stay in husband’s family home: SC overrules previous verdict

The court expands the meaning of ‘shared household’ under the Domestic Violence Act

The bench of judges said 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. Representational image: iStock

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.

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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.

Related news: UP ranks first in domestic violence cases, crimes against women: NCW

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”.

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