Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: In a case wherein a father-in-law was accused of raping his own daughter-in-law, Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that,

Rape is not merely a physical assault; it is often destructive of the whole personality of the survivor.

Factual Background

Prosecutrix submitted that she got married according to Muslim Rites and Customs. After some time of her marriage, her in-laws started to harass her but she remained silent. Further, it was stated that her husband used to beat her and subjected her to unnatural sex several times.

Later, the prosecutrix came to know that her husband was having an affair with some other woman and therefore, she tried to make him understand, but he did not listen to her.

Petitioner raped prosecutrix on 2-3 occasions. On one day the prosecutrix told her brother-in-law about the incidents of rape by the petitioner. Though it is stated that after that day, brother-in-law tried to touch the prosecutrix inappropriately after which the prosecutrix told her parents everything and asked them to take her along.

An FIR was lodged for the offences under Sections 323, 376 of the Penal Code, 1860.

In view of the above, petitioner was arrested.

Yogesh Gaur, Counsel for the complainant opposed the bail by contending that the prosecutrix was harassed by her husband, her father-in-law and brother-in-law. Petitioner raped the prosecutrix, hence the bail ought not to be granted to him.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noted on a number of Supreme Court cases with respect to parameters of granting bail, which were as follows:

Bench expressed that rape is an extremely heinous offence that stipulated minimum punishment of 7 years and can go up to life.

Petitioner was accused of a very heinous offence of raping his own daughter-in-law.

The act of rape has the ability to scar the mental psyche of the survivor and this trauma can persist for years.

In view of the above, bail was rejected.[Ahshan Ali v. State, Bail Appln. No. 2116 of 2021, decided on 21-10-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioner:

Gaurav Kochar, Advocate

For the respondent:

Kusum Dhalla, APP for the State with SI Shubham Singh, PS Jyoti Nagar.

Yogesh Gaur, Advocate for the complainant.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: N. Anil Kumar, J., decided a matter wherein the son-in-law claimed his right on father-in-law’s property while pleading that he was adopted by his wife’s family after marriage and hence had a right on the property.

Plaintiff aged 69 years was the respondent in the appeal claiming for permanent injunction interdicting the defendant from trespassing into the plaint schedule property or interfering with the plaintiff’s peaceful possession and enjoyment of the plaint schedule property and the house therein or committing any waste therein.

The said suit property belonged to the plaintiff by virtue of a gift deed.

Plaintiff also submitted that he had constructed a concrete house spending his own funds and was also residing with his family on the said property.

The defendant was the son-in-law of the plaintiff and he had no manner of right over the property.

Reason for filing the suit was that the defendant was disturbing the plaintiff’s peaceful possession and enjoyment of the suit property.

What was the son-in law’s contention?

Son-in-law contended that he had married the only daughter of the plaintiff and has been practically adopted as a member of the family subsequent to the marriage. Hence, he maintained that he has a right to reside in the house, as of right. He also added that he had constructed a building in the property expending his own money and has no other place of abode.

Trial Court’s decision

Trial Court held that the plaintiff is the owner in possession of the plaint schedule property and the defendant, who is the son-in-law of the plaintiff, has no manner of right in interfering with the possession of the plaint schedule building.

First Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s decision.

Question for Consideration:

Does a son-in-law have any legal right to his father-in-law’s property and building?

High Court expressed that it would be difficult to hold that the defendant was a member of the family.

It was noted by the Court that the defendant’s behaviour became intolerable, due to which the plaintiff filed a suit seeking a permanent prohibitory injunction restraining the defendant from entering into the plaint schedule property and building.

High Court stated that it is a settled principle of law that even a trespasser, who is in established possession of the property, could obtain an injunction.

In the present matter, the matter would have been different if the plaintiff was the true owner of the property.

Defendant was the son-law in the present case, it is shameful for him to plead that he had been adopted as a member of the family, subsequent to the marriage with the plaintiff’s daughter.

Nair Service Society Ltd. v. K.C. Alexander, AIR 1968 SC 1165, in this decision the 3-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court reiterated the principle that possession is good against all but the true owner.

Therefore,

“A person in possession of the land in the assumed character of owner and exercising peaceably the ordinary rights of ownership has a perfectly good title against all the world but the rightful owner.”

The rightful owner filed a suit for injunction restraining him from entering into the property. The residence of the defendant, if any, in the plaint schedule building is only permissive in nature. The defendant cannot contend that he is in legal possession of the suit property or the building.

Further, the Court opined that it was not necessary to decide the validity of the Gift Deed executed by the Church in favour of the plaintiff.

Contention that the plaintiff was a man of bad character and not on good terms with family members was rejected in view of Section 52 of the Indian Evidence Act which provides that in civil cases, a fact pertaining to the character of an individual is not relevant.

The said section lays down the principle that the character of a party as a piece of evidence cannot be used to manifest that conduct attributed to him is not probable or improbable.

 To be a question of law involved in the case, there must be first, a foundation for it laid in the pleadings, and the question should emerge from the sustainable findings of fact, arrived at by Courts of facts, and it must be necessary to decide that question of law for a just and proper decision of the case.

Bench dismissed the appeal on finding no error in the decision of lower courts. [Davis Raphel v. Hendry Thomas, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 3491, decided on 6-09-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For Appellant:

Blaze K. Jose, Advocate

Deepa Narayanan, Advocate

For Respondent:

V.A. Satheesh, Advocate

V.T. Madhavanunni

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Prathiba M. Singh, J. while addressing the matter, expressed that

“…in the opinion of this Court, all cases of family disputes cannot be characterised as cases under the DV Act.”

Plaintiff had filed a suit against his son and daughter-in-law, respectively.

In view of various disputes between the plaintiff and his son/daughter-in-law, he sought the permanent and mandatory injunction, damages seeking vacant and peaceful possession of the suit property and removal of his son and daughter-in-law. Damages and mesne profits were also sought by the plaintiff.

 Issues:

  • Condonation of delay of 342 days, in filing the present second appeal.
  • Merits of matter.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court stated that there was no delay in filing the present appeal.

Several disputes arose amongst the said family members, which, according to Plaintiff, were due to the interference of the family members of the daughter-in-law, including the mother and the brothers of the daughter-in-law.

There was no document on record to show the existence of a HUF, of which, Plaintiff was alleged to be the Karta.

Plea of ‘shared household’ appeared to have clearly been put up on behalf of the daughter-in-law, as a faint plea, and as an argument of last resort.

There were no complaints that had been preferred against the father-in-law and there were no cases filed or pending under the DV Act, or any other legislation at the instance of the daughter-in-law.

Further, the Bench stated that the father was merely seeking to evict both his son and daughter-in-law, on the strength of his ownership of the suit property.

Adding to the above, Court stated that the settled position of law is that proceedings under the DV Act are not required and the same can also be raised as defence in the suit, the basic requirements of the said Act ought to be satisfied.

The present is not a case where the case set up is one under the DV Act, involving domestic violence. 

High Court highlighted the peculiar facts:

  • The ownership of the Plaintiff in the suit property is not in dispute.
  • The sale of the property of the mother, which took place in 2011, was never challenged by the Defendants.
  • The purchase of this suit property in the name of the Plaintiff was never challenged by the Defendants.
  • There is no complaint of Domestic Violence raised by the daughter-in-law before any forum. In fact, to the contrary, the Plaintiff has filed complaints against his son and daughter-in-law with police repeatedly, alleging ill-treatment and abuse.
  • The Defendants i.e., the son and daughter-in-law are living together peacefully. The written statement before the trial court was filed jointly. The first appeal was also filed jointly, and so is the present second appeal. There is no estrangement or marital discord between them.
  • The order passed in the application under Order XII Rule 6 CPC has also been executed and the Defendants have already moved out of the suit property and are living in alternate premises.

In light of the above stated facts and noting that they are distinguishable from the facts of Satish Chandra Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, [2020 (11) SCALE 476] and Vanitha v. Deputy Commr., [2020 (14) SCALE 210]

Court dismissed the appeal. [Aarti Sharma v. Ganga Saran, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4110, decided on 24-08-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Appellants: Zahid Ali, Advocate

For the Respondent: Ashok Kumar Tiwari, Advocate

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of A.S. Chandurkar and N.B. Suryawanshi, JJ., reiterated that father-in-law has a moral responsibility to maintain the widowed daughter-in-law.

The appeal has been filed under Sections 19 and 22 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 challenging the Family Court by which the petition filed by appellants against respondent for maintenance was dismissed.

Appellant 1—daughter in law and appellant 2 and 4 – grandchildren of the respondent. Appellants claimed maintenance from the respondent contending that the marriage of the first appellant with respondent’s son was solemnized under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Since the marriage was against the wishes of both the first appellant and her husband’s family members wishes, cases and counter cases were filed by the first appellant and respondent. Parag expired on 19-01-2000 and after his death, nobody took care of the appellants.

After the husband’s death, first appellant tried to reconcile with respondent but he refused to accept her as a daughter-in-law and appellant’s 2 to 4 as his grandchildren.

Respondent refused to maintain the appellant, hence the appellants were compelled to go to the widowed mother of the first appellant. She maintained the appellant till she expired in 2007 and after which the appellant had no source of income and they were unable to maintain themselves.

It was stated that due to paucity of funds, the second appellant could not pursue her studies after 12th standard. Even the other two minor children could not appear for exams.

Appellants were on the verge of being thrown out of their house due to non-availability of money for rent, whereas respondent was living a lavish lifestyle.

It has also been added that the late husband of the first appellant had his share in a property as the same was coparcenary property, hence appellants had their share in the said property.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench observed the facts and circumstances of the case and noted that the appellant’s counsel strenuously submitted that it was the moral duty of the father-in-law to maintain his widowed daughter-in-law and grandchildren and he cannot run away from his duty.

Points for consideration:

(i) Whether the appellants are entitled to maintenance from the respondent?

(ii) Whether the Family Court was justified in dismissing the claim of maintenance of the appellants? (iii) What order?

Court observed that there was no evidence on record that the first appellant was able to work and her deceased parents had left some property for her. Hence it was proved that the appellants were unable to maintain themselves.

In view of the evidence and material on record, it was found that there was a property which was the ancestral property in possession of the respondent that Parag during his lifetime or first appellant at any point of time were given share.

Since the first appellant was not remarried and the respondent had been getting pension, in Court’s opinion appellants were entitled to claim maintenance from the respondent.

In T. A. Laxhmi Narasamba v. Sundaramma, AIR 1981 Andhra Pradesh 88 the Full Bench of Andhra Pradesh High Court held thus ;

“The moral obligation of a father-in-law possessed of separate or self-acquired property to maintain the widowed daughter-in-law ripens into a legal obligation in the hands of persons to whom he has either bequeathed or made a gift of his property.”

Division Bench of this Court in Madhukar v. Shalu, 2013 (6) MhL.J. Page 391, held that to maintain the widowed daughter in law is the legal responsibility of father-in-law.

Sections 19 and 22 of the Act create first obligation to maintain a widowed daughter-in- law on the father-in-law. The obligation only shifts on the father of the widow, if the father-in-law prove his inability to maintain her.

Hence, in view of the above decisions and facts and circumstances of the case, Bench held that the family court misread and misconstrued the provisions of Sections 19 and 22 of the Family Courts Act and since it was proved that the respondent held estate/coparcenary property of the deceased, the respondent was under obligation to provide maintenance to the appellants.

[Laxmi v. Santosh,  2021 SCC OnLine Bom 359, decided on 23-02-2021]


Advocates who appeared for the matter:

S.P. Kshirsagar, Advocate for appellants

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Nitin W. Sambre, J., while addressing a petition with regard to grant of maintenance held that under Section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 wife has every right to claim the maintenance after the death of the husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law.

Facts

Late Bhupinder was married to respondent 1. Respondent 2 was born out of the said marriage.

Mother of Respondent 1 died in the year 2016 and her father died in 2017. She submitted that she has no independent source of earning and she and her son are completely dependent on the earnings of the petitioner.

In view of the above, respondent 1 preferred the proceedings under Section 19 and 22 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 for grant of maintenance of Rs 1,50,000 per month to petitioner 1 and Rs 50,000 to petitioner 2.

Family Court had allowed granted maintenance of Rs 40,000 per month to respondent 1, whereas Rs 30,000 per month to respondent 2.

Hence the present petition was filed.

Analysis and Decision

Section 19 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 contemplates that the wife has every right to claim the maintenance after the death of the husband from the estate inherited by her father-in-law, ie. the present petitioner.

Proviso to Sub-Section (1) of Section 19 contemplates that the respondent has to demonstrate that she on her own is unable to maintain herself.

Thus, it is in the above-stated eventuality that she can claim maintenance from the estate of her husband, still, fact remains that the said burden can be discharged by respondent1 at an appropriate stage.

Further, the court stated that the maintenance awarded to the respondent 1 to the tune of Rs 40,000 and to respondent  2, grandson of Rs 30,000 appears to be justified, considering the income drawn by the petitioner.

High Court stated that it cannot see any material illegalities to infer that the impugned order runs contrary to the scheme of Section 19 of the Act. Hence no case for interference will be made out in the present petition. [Sardool Singh Sucha Singh Mathroo v. Harneet Kaur, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 927, decided on 07-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of R.K. Gauba, J. dismissed a petition filed by the petitioner-wife for a right to possession in the house owned by her father-in-law.

The wife had filed a suit under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 impleading her husband and father-in-law. Concededly, the wife lived with her son in a portion of the house which was owned by the father-in-law. The wife submitted that she was allowed to live in the said house under a family arrangement. She claimed a right to possession in the shared household under the Act. The question that arose for consideration was whether the property in question or any portion thereof could be described under the facts and circumstances as a shared household?

The High Court perused Section 2(s) of the Act which describes a shared household. It was conceded at the bar that right of residence under the above mentioned special legislation can be claimed and pressed only against the husband and not against the father-in-law. It was observed as inherent in definition of shared household that the person against whom the right of residence is claimed qua the household described as such, should have a right, title or interest therein. In the facts of the present case, it was held that the wife has no such right of residence, as her claim which was through her husband could not be sustained. The partition suit filed by the husband against his father as also the claim brought through her son had already been rejected by the civil court which had attained finality. It was held that the petitioner was only a permissive user of the house and as such could not force herself on the owner of the property, particularly when she had no vested or legal right to claim residence in his property. For reaching the said conclusion, the Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in S.R. Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169. The petition was accordingly dismissed. [Manju Gupta v. Pankaj Gupta,2018 SCC OnLine Del 11337, Order dated 30-08-2018]