Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and Revati Mohite Dere, JJ., observed that the daughter-in-law cannot be directed by the  Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens’ Tribunal to pay maintenance to her in-laws.

The present writ petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India thereby taking an exception to the order passed by respondent 1 –Presiding Officer of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens’ Tribunal.

During the pendency of this petition, the Division Bench of this Court by order 18-2-2019, directed thus:

“5.(c) Since it is stated that the Petitioner may be dispossessed tomorrow and by using force, we direct that until further orders of this Court, the operative direction No.3 which directs the Petitioner to hand over vacant and peaceful possession of the premises to her in-laws be not acted upon or implemented.” 

Factual Matrix

Respondent 1 /non-applicant had passed the order (impugned in the present petition) in the proceedings instituted by respondent 2—Nalini Shah and her husband—Mahendra Shah. During the pendency of the present petition, the husband of respondent 2 died, with permission of the Court his name was deleted.

Further, respondent-4—Devang Shah was the husband of the petitioner and also the son of respondent 2 and present petitioner – Sheetal Shah was the daughter-in-law of respondent 2.

It was alleged that Sheetal Shah and her husband had made the life of Nalini Shah and Mahendra Shah miserable and there was continuous physical and mental torture/harassment to them in their old age and that too in their own house.

Respondent 1 –Tribunal had allowed the application filed by Nalini Shah and her husband and directed their son and daughter-in-law to pay maintenance, also they were directed to hand over the possession of the entire residential premises.

On being aggrieved with the above order, the present writ petition was filed.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that, while exercising writ jurisdiction, it is not desirable to undertake exercise of disputed questions of fact, and more particularly, when Court finds that the observations/findings recorded by the Tribunal, while answering the issue that Sheetal Shah and Devang Shah in the said application were causing mental and physical harassment to Nalini Shah and Mahendra Shah, were made keeping in view the material placed on record.

The Bench stated that it has reservations with the direction to Sheetal Shah to pay the maintenance amount to Nalini Shah.

Section 2(a) of the Act mentions, ‘children’ include son, daughter, grandson and granddaughter and there was no reference to the daughter-in-law. Court did not find a single document showing the earnings of Sheetal Shah.

Hence, the impugned order to the extent that it directed Sheetal Shah to pay Rs 25,000 along with her husband to her in-laws could not be legally sustained. However, the direction given to Devang Shah to pay the said maintenance amount Nalini Shah was legally sustainable.

Bench confirmed the order of the Tribunal except for the direction to Sheetal Shah to pay jointly with Devang Shah maintenance of Rs 25,000.

In view of the above observations, the petition was dismissed. [Sheetal Devang Shah v. Presiding Officer of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens, 2022 SCC OnLine Bom 1068, decided on 6-5-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Ms. Yasmin Tavaria a/w. Mr. Anand Poojary, Ms. Nikita Pawar and Mr.Bhushan Kanchan i/b. S. I. Joshi & Company for the Petitioner.

Mrs. Jyoti Chavan, AGP for Respondent No.1-State.

Mr. Vivek Kantawala a/w. Mr. Amey Patil i/b. Vivek Kantawala & Co. for Respondent No.2.

Mr. P. R. Yadav for Respondent No.4.

Mr. Umesh Birari, Sub-Divisional Officer, Mumbai Western Suburbs.

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