RITU CHERNALIA V AMAR CHERNALIA & ORS
DATE OF ORDER:
PRATHIBA M. SINGH
Respondent: AMAR CHERNALIA & ORS
The Delhi High Court has held that a daughter-in-law does not have an inalienable right to a "shared household" and that in-law cannot be barred from it.
Facts of the Case
- The current case involves a dispute between the petitioner and the respondent over the right to occupy the property in question (suit property). The Petitioner had submitted the aforementioned petition to challenge the order of the Divisional Commissioner, GNCTD. The petitioner had been ordered by that judgment to accommodate her in-laws on the same property. The property contained three rooms: one for the in-laws, one for the petitioner and her son, and one for the petitioner's young son to use for tuition and other purposes, all of which had to be accessible to all. The Petitioner, on the other hand, appealed this order, claiming that due to her strained relationship with her in-laws, she was unwilling to split the disputed property with them.
- Before diving into the specifics of the case, it is necessary to note that before the Divisional Commissioner issued the aforementioned ruling, the District Magistrate issued an eviction order against the petitioner. She had filed an appeal with the DC, and a compromise was proposed in which both parties were asked to reside and split the suit property.
The main issue is determining the rights that each party would have on the property in question while taking into account the idea of a "shared household" and senior citizens' entitlement to a quiet place to live. When the property must be divided between the parties, it is crucial to determine the best way to balance their interests.
Arguments by the Petitioner
- The petitioner claimed that while she was satisfied that the District Magistrate had overturned the eviction order against her, she did not agree with the Divisional Commissioner's order's requirement that she share housing in the suit property with the respondents (her in-laws). She claimed that because she had a little boy, she did not want to live with her in-laws, who she did not get along with. Her attorney further explained that she had turned down the alternative housing options provided by the respondents, including the most acceptable one, which was a neighbor's house itself because it shared a corridor with the other inhabitants.
Argument by the Respondent
- The respondents claimed that they have been living with their married daughter as a result of the eviction, which is embarrassing for them. They claimed that as a result, they need the right to remain in their own home, which is theirs. According to them, they had also given the petitioner and her young son a choice from a list of five alternative homes so that they could both choose a place to live and have their house back. Despite knowing that they are elderly citizens and need a home of their own to live in, the petitioner rejected all five of those properties, which to them sounded ridiculous and like a needless attempt by her to bother them.
Analysis of court
- The Delhi High Court cited the Supreme Court's ruling in Satish Chander Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, 2020 when it issued its ruling, noting that the rights of both parties must be considered when deciding any case involving a "shared household" under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 or any other civil matter, particularly when it involves elderly people who are already disabled.
- In light of this, the Delhi High Court in this case ruled that it is crucial to remember that the wife's or daughter-in-law's right to live in the joint household is not "indefeasible" and that its realization must not result in any "exclusion" of the rights of the in-laws. Because this would go against the understanding established above, the daughter-in-law is not allowed to say that the in-laws shouldn't be allowed to live in their own homes. If it becomes apparent that the daughter-in-law and the in-laws are unable to cohabitate in the shared home at all, arrangements must be made for an alternative residence.
- In the current situation, it must be highlighted that the petitioner is not allowed to stipulate that the in-laws cannot stay in their own homes because she was given the option of alternate accommodations and voluntarily declined each one. They have a right to live there because the property is theirs, hence that right is certain. Regarding the petitioner's stay, she may be permitted to do so with her little son in one of the rooms.
- The court's requirements are listed in full below: (i) The petitioner and her son must share one room in the suit property. Additionally, respondents 1 and 2 will share a bedroom.
- (ii) The third bedroom may be used by the grandson (petitioner 2) for studies, tuition, and other purposes, provided that all parties have access to it.
- (iii) All residents must utilize the common areas, including the kitchen, dining room, living room, stairway, and others.
- (iv) The petitioner is allowed to see the CCTV camera records, and the in-laws are allowed to install them.
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