Del HC | ‘Permanency’ as an element of ‘Shared Household’ concept under Domestic Violence Act: Can old-aged parents-in-law be restrained from selling their house in light of shared household consequences? Read Court’s proposition

Delhi High Court: Suresh Kumar Kait, J., dealt with the provisions in regard to the concept of the shared household while referring to a very pertinent decision of the Supreme Court.

In the instant case, the petitioner is stated to be the daughter-in-law and respondents her parents-in-law.

It has been added that multiple proceedings have been pending between the husband and wife but the focus and purpose due to which the parties were present before the Court was the Agreement to Sell entered between respondent 1 mother-in-law with third-party qua property which was purportedly in her name.

Shared Household Property

As per the petitioner, the property in question was a shared household property where she had lived with her husband due to which the said property could not be alienated from the said property.

Petitioner with regard to the above, filed an application under Section 19(1)(d) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act) and Magistrate after issuance of notice, vide an order granted interim relief to petitioner restraining respondents from selling or alienating the property in question.

Revision Petition was preferred against the interim order before the Sessions Court under Sections 395/397 CrPC which was converted into an appeal and vide judgment dated 03-05-2021, the said appeal was allowed.

Petitioner sought aside the judgment passed by the Appellate Court.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench perused the impugned judgment, provisions of DV Act as well as Supreme Court’s decision in Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414.

What was the crux of the matter?

Petitioner filed an application to restrain the parent-in-law from selling or alienating the subject property. Since Agreement to Sell had to be executed with a limited time frame, aggrieved parents-in-law filed an appeal against the restraint order, which was allowed by the Appellate Court after giving due opportunity of being heard.

Appellate Court referred to Section 2(s) of the Statute, which defined shared household and relied upon the Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414 where the rights of an aggrieved woman as provided under Sections 17 & 19 of the Statute, came to be revisited by the Supreme Court.

Appellate Court had observed that daughter-in-law was not residing at the house in question on the day of presentation of the complaint nor any time soon before. It was added to the observation that she was occupying a staff quarter allotted to her husband and lived in the house in question only for a short duration and occasionally visited parents-in-law, to say only thrice.

What did the appellate court held?

“…that these short durational visits or stay of daughter-in-law at the house of the parents-in- law would not get the house a colour of being a shared house hold.”

Bench in the instant case agreed with the ratio laid down by the Supreme Court decision in Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414, however, the facts were different in the present case in comparison to the Supreme Court decision.

High Court added that the fact remained that petitioner never resided with parents-in-laws and always stayed at the place of posting of her husband and visited them occasionally.

Bench added that the intent and purpose of DV Act was to safeguard the interest of distressed women.

Though it is stated that the provisions of Section 17 of the DV Act stipulate that every woman in a domestic relationship shall have a right to reside in the shared household whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same, but in the present case, petitioner had in fact neither permanently nor for a longer period resided in the house of parents-in-law and so, it could not be termed as ‘shared household’. Hence, there was no question of evicting or dispossessing her from there.

Pertinent Question in the present case

Whether the old aged parents-in-law, who at the fag-end of their life, wish to sell off their property to relocate themselves in a better place of their choice, be restrained to sell of the house or permitted to do it?

Supreme Court’s observation in Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414 was referred to, wherein it was stated:

90. Before we close our discussion on Section 2(s), we need to observe that the right to residence under Section 19 is not an indefeasible right of residence in shared household especially when the daughter-in-law is pitted against aged father-in-law and mother-in-law. The senior citizens in the evening of their life are also entitled to live peacefully not haunted by marital discord between their son and daughter-in-law. While granting relief both in application under Section 12 of the 2005 Act or in any civil proceedings, the Court has to balance the rights of both the parties. The directions issued by the High Court [Ambika Jain v. Ram Prakash Sharma, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 11886] in para 56 adequately balance the rights of both the parties.”

Hence, in light of the above observations, Court found that the impugned judgment did not suffer from illegality or infirmity.

Therefore, the present application was accordingly dismissed while making it clear that the observations made by this Court are in the peculiar facts of the present case and shall not be treated as a precedent in any other case. [Vibhuti Wadhwa Sharma v. Krishna Sharma,2021 SCC OnLine Del 2104, decided on 17-05-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioner: Jatan Singh, Saurav Joon & Tushar Lamba, Advocates

For the respondents: Roopenshu Pratap Singh, Advocate

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