Delhi High Court: Explaining the significance of ‘shared household’ Asha Menon, J., explained that where a residence is clearly a shared household, it would not bar the owner from claiming eviction against her daughter-in-law, if circumstances call for it.
An instant suit was filed for possession, damages and permanent injunction in respect of the property. The plaintiff claimed to be the exclusive and absolute owner of the suit property.
The suit was filed against the daughter-in-law of the plaintiff who is defendant 1 and her mother who is defendant 2. Son of the plaintiff and the husband of the defendant 1 expired in 2020.
Even if it was accepted that defendant 2 had come to reside with her daughter then, to be of comfort to her daughter, clearly, she had no right to continue to stay in the suit premises once the plaintiff had expressed her desire that the defendant 2 should leave.
Whether defendant 1 raised a triable issue with regard to the title of the plaintiff?
In Court’s opinion, defendant’s claim reflected a desperate attempt to question the plaintiff’s exclusive title to the suit property, which attempt has failed.
Reasoning the above-said further, High Court stated that accepting the fact that the plaintiff’s husband had bequeathed the property to the children, it was also a fact that the children relinquished their shares and rights in favour of their mother.
The Relinquishment Deed was of the year 1999 and the son of the plaintiff married three times, and the defendant 1, being the third wife, entered his life in 2014. Between 1999 till 2014, neither the deceased son of the plaintiff nor her daughter questioned the Relinquishment Deed executed in favour of their mother or the execution of the Conveyance Deed in 2000 solely in the name of the plaintiff.
Even after the marriage of the deceased son of the plaintiff to the defendant 1, the son never questioned the validity of the Relinquishment Deed, by instituting any legal proceedings.
Hence, in view of the above, challenge raised by the defendant 1 was completely untenable and the plaintiff was clearly the exclusive owner of the suit property.
In the present matter, Court noted that the defendants admitted the existence of the Relinquishment Deed and Conveyance Deed executed in favour of the plaintiff and expressed that,
Merely raising the bogey of a life interest does not detract from the admissions made, thus acknowledging the exclusive title of the plaintiff to the suit property.
Defendant 1 raised the plea that the suit premises constituted her shared household.
The significant point to be noted was that the plaintiff herself did not dispute the fact that the suit premises formed the shared household, hence no other evidence or proof was required to establish the said fact.
High Court opined that in light of the decision of the Supreme Court in Satish Chander Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, (2021) 1 SCC 414 the mere fact that premises take on the nature of shared household would not per se be a complete defence to a suit for possession filed by the owner of the property, being the in-laws of the defendant/aggrieved person, nor is such a suit barred.
The protection under the DV Act assuring the residence of the aggrieved person in the shared household does not vest any proprietary or indefeasible right on the aggrieved person. It is also subject to eviction being initiated in accordance with law.
Right of residence allowed to aggrieved person does not extend to her insisting on the right of residence in a particular premises.
Section 19 of the DV Act provides for an alternate accommodation being given to the aggrieved person of the same level in certain circumstances.
“…even where a residence is clearly a shared household, it does not bar the owner, the plaintiff herein, from claiming eviction against her daughter-in-law, if the circumstances call for it.”
Whether the plaintiff must be put to the rigours of a trial to determine whether she made out a case for reclaiming possession of the suit premises or whether the facts as set out in the written statement and the plaint would be sufficient to come to a conclusion?
As per the written statement, the relationship between the parties was far from cordial.
Defendant 1’s case was that the plaintiff and her grandson subjected her to abuse along with this she also stated that she was entitled to half share in the property and thus was entitled to half of the rental income as per the Will of the late father-in-law. She even alleged that her stepson being the grandson of the plaintiff was wasting away the assets of her late husband and was operating various bank accounts and mutual fund accounts of her late husband on the basis of being the nominee, without accounting for her share.
Court noted that defendant 1 in order to wrest settlement from the plaintiff, had made efforts to pressurize her while staying in her premises.
Bench opined that, the defendants admitted in their written statement that the plaintiff had one bedroom in her possession whereas the defendants had two bedrooms in their possession with kitchen, drawing and dining being common portions. By inducting her mother and for a short time her sister, defendant 1 seemed to have made an attempt to assert rights in respect of the suit property, clearly causing distress to the plaintiff.
The averments made in the written statement were sufficient to establish a justification for the plaintiff to seek the eviction of the defendants.
High Court held that the plaintiff was entitled to seek possession of the suit premises from the two defendants without the rigours of an unnecessary and prolonged trial at her age.
Suppression of Facts
Plaintiff counsel submitted that the defendants had a place in Pune.
In the written statement the allegation was that the plaintiff and the grandson were trying to force the defendants “to return to Pune”. The Bench stated that interestingly the affidavit of defendant 2 stated her residential address to be the suit premises but it cannot be her permanent residence. Defendant 2 arrives from somewhere upon the death of her son-in-law.
Hence, there had been suppression of facts by the defendants. [Madalsa Sood v. Maunicka Makkar, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 5217, decided on 10-12-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Plaintiff:
Rajat Aneja & Chandrika Gupta, Advocates.
For the Defendants:
D.K. Goswami, Sr. Advocate with Saharsh Jauhar & Kuldeep Singh, Advocates for D-1 & D-2.