Bombay High Court: Sandeep K. Shinde, J., examines whether an application under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act on behalf of relatives of deceased seeking monetary relief, possession of ‘stridhan’ and compensation was maintainable or not.

Question for Consideration:

Whether an application presented by the petitioners under Section 12 of the D.V. Act on behalf of deceased, Suchita Sapre, seeking:

(i) monetary relief under Section 20(b) i.e. reimbursement of medical expenses incurred by petitioner 2 for the treatment of deceased, Suchita;

(ii) possession of “Streedhan” of late, Suchita under Section 19(8) of the D.V. Act; and

(iii) compensation under Section 22 from the respondents, was maintainable?”

Trajectory of the Case  

Petitioner 1 was the minor daughter of the deceased. Respondent 1 was the father of the petitioner and respondents 2 and 3 were the grandfather and grandmother of petitioner 1, whereas petitioner 2 was the mother of the deceased.

It was stated that the deceased was neglected by her husband and in0laws and was subjected to physical, verbal and economic abuses by the respondent due to which she suffered serious sickness and later passed away.

Petitioners alleged the respondents did not bother to look after Suchita in her lifetime and even during her illness. Petitioner 2 (mother of Suchita) would claim that, she had spent Rs 60,00,000 for Suchita’s treatment and would also claim that, she had gifted gold ornaments in Suchita’s marriage, which are in the custody of mother-in-law, respondent 3.

In view of the above background, petitioner had presented an application under Section 12 of the DV Act.

Respondents questioned the locus of the petitioners and maintainability of the present application under Section 12 of the DV Act stated that the reliefs under the said Act could not have been sought on behalf of the deceased.

Later, petitioners’ application was rejected and in appeal, the order of Additional Sessions Judge was confirmed, and the said orders have been assailed in the instant petition.

Significant Point: Suchita died in the year 2013, whereas the petitioner presented the application for various reliefs in 2015.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noted that petitioners did not claim themselves to be “aggrieved person” but asserted their right to present an application under Section 12 of the DV Act on behalf of the deceased who as per them was an aggrieved person. Therefore, the petitioners sought enforcement of the personal rights of the deceased.

The Bench held that the rights sought to be enforced by the petitioner by presenting an application under Section 12 of the DV Act was clearly not maintainable for the following reasons:

  • the right to claim monetary reliefs, protection order and compensation under the D.V. Act, are personal-statutory and inalienable rights of the “aggrieved person”. These rights extinguish on the death of “aggrieved person”. For that reason, such rights were not enforceable by legal representatives of “aggrieved person”.
  • expression “aggrieved person” has to be understood and given restrictive meaning, in view of the Statement of Object and Reasons of the Act. Defined expression “aggrieved person” is not inclusive and thus by process of interpretative explanation, its scope cannot be expanded like suggested by the petitioners, as it would counter the Scheme and Object of the Act and would defeat the intention of the legislation.
  • although “any other person” can present an application under Section 12 of the D.V. Act, on behalf of “aggrieved person”, nevertheless, such “other person” cannot maintain an application independently of an “aggrieved person”. Infact, Section 12 of the D.V. Act, simply enables, the “aggrieved person” to present an application under the Act through “any other person”. That being the Scheme of the Act, “aggrieved person” must be living (alive) while presenting the application.

Hence, petitioners’ application was rightly rejected by Trial Court and Appellate Court.

In view of the above discussion, petition was disposed of. [Kanaka Kedar Sapre v. Kedar Narhar Sapre, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1, decided on 4-1-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Mr. Abhijeet Sarwate, Advocate for the petitioner.

Mr. Tapan Thatte a/w. Mr. Amar Patil i/by. Mr. Shantanu Adkar, Advocate for respondents 1 to 3.

Mr. A.R. Patil, APP for State.

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