Delhi High Court: Yogesh Khanna, J., held that right of residence under Section 19 of the Domestic Violence Act is not an indefeasible right of residence in a shared household, especially when the daughter-in-law is pitted against aged father-in-law and mother-in-law.

Appeal was filed to set aside the decision passed by the Additional District Judge.

Factual Matrix

Respondent claimed to be the absolute and sole owner of the property vide a registered sale deed, hence he filed a suit for eviction against his daughter-in-law.

A decree of possession with damages equivalent to the market rent of the alleged illegal possession was passed against the appellant and also a decree of permanent injunction to restrain her from creating any third party right in such property.

Appellant’s case was that she being a legally wedded wife of respondent’s son had been residing with her minor daughters in one room with an attached bathroom and balcony in the suit property.

The main plea of the appellant was that S. Kesar Singh (grandfather of appellant’s husband) had purchased the New Friends Colony property out of joint family funds and from sale proceeds of the ancestral property and after the death of S. Kesar Singh the subject property was purchased by the respondent from such ancestral funds, hence the suit property is a joint family property in which the appellant has also a right to reside.

Lower Court in its order had passed a decree of possession to the respondent and it was held that the property was self-acquired property of the respondent, and the appellant was residing in the property as his daughter-in-law and after the termination of the license, she had no right to stay therein.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court on considering the above facts and circumstances stated that, since S. Kesar Singh died in 1977, the succession opened after commencement of the 1956 Act, hence there was no basis to say that the subject property was an ancestral property or there existed HUF.

High Court opined that the subject property exclusively belonged to the respondent and the appellant on contrary did not file any document to show the existence of any HUF in the name of S. Kesar Singh and sons or the property.

The house in which the appellant had been residing after her marriage with the son of the respondent was a shared household. Though the husband and wife had been living separately.

Also, another significant point that the Court noted was that, the son of the respondent did not claim any right in the subject property, hence where shared household was admitted by the respondent, there was no need for the trial court to implead the husband of the appellant.

“Admittedly where the parties are residing is a flat, having only three bed rooms, a drawing room and the appellant is in possession of a room in the said flat, then considering there are various complaints filed by them against each other; their relations being not cordial, would it in such circumstances, be appropriate for them to stay together and fight every minute of their existence.” 

Bench remarked that,

In this case, both (father-in-law and mother-in-law) being senior citizens of age about 74 and 69 years and being in the evening of their life, are entitled to live peacefully and not to be haunted by the marital discord between their son and daughter-in-law.

Elaborating further, the High Court added that, where the residence is a shared household, it does not create any embargo upon the owner to claim eviction against his daughter-in-law.

Bench advised that since there was friction in the relationship between the parties, hence it would be appropriate if an alternative accommodation is provided to the appellant as per Section 19(2)(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

In view of the above, the appeal was dismissed. [Ravneet Kaur v. Prithpal Singh Dhingra, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 594, decided on 24-2-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Appellant: Mr Sahilendra Bhardwaj and Ms Aroma S Bhardwaj, Advocates.

For the Respondent: Mr Rajat Wadhwa, Mr Aman Kapoor, Mr Lakshay Luthra, Mr Aditya Varun, Advocates.

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