17 October 2020
There are numerous topics / questions of law decided by Supreme Court under the various/different provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, what are the facts of your question ?
17 October 2020
Civil appeal no 2483/2020 decided on 15-10-2020 by S.C bench comprising justice Ashok Bhushan,Justice R.Subhash Reddy and Justice M.R.Shah ,over rulled the judgment S.R.Batra vs Taruna Batra by holding that " Wife entitled to claim right of Residence which belongs to Relatives of husband "
18 October 2020
Judgments hold no magic wands. It has been emphasized by the Apex Court time and again that "Courts should not place reliance on decisions without discussing as to how the factual situation fits in with the fact situation of the decision on which reliance is placed. Observations of Courts are neither to be read as Euclid's theorems nor as provisions of the statute and that too taken out of their context. These observations must be read in the context in which they appear to have been stated. Judgments of Courts are not to be construed as statutes. To interpret words, phrases and provisions of a statute, it may become necessary for judges to embark into lengthy discussions but the discussion is meant to explain and not to define. Judges interpret statutes, they do not interpret judgments. They interpret words of statutes; their words are not to be interpreted as statutes."
The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in Satish Chandra Ahuja vs. Sneha Ahuja dated 15/10/2020 exemplifies this aspect.
Though it has been widely reported that the Apex Court had held that "wife entitled to claim right of residence which belongs to the relatives of the husband", the ratio decedendi was not exactly on the same words:
"62..........................We, thus, are of the considered opinion that shared household referred to in Section 2(s) is the shared household of aggrieved person where she was living at the time when application was filed or in the recent past had been excluded from the use or she is temporarily absent."
What the Hon'ble Court has attempted has been to lay down a purposeful construction to the expression “lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship” as provided under Section 2(s) of the DV Act:
"63. The words “lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship” have to be given its normal and purposeful meaning. The living of woman in a household has to refer to a living which has some permanency. Mere fleeting or casual living at different places shall not make a shared household. The intention of the parties and the nature of living including the nature of household have to be looked into to find out as to whether the parties intended to treat the premises as shared household or not. As noted above, Act 2005 was enacted to give a higher right in favour of woman. The Act, 2005 has been enacted to provide for more effective protection of the rights of the woman who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family. The Act has to be interpreted in a manner to effectuate the very purpose and object of the Act. Section 2(s) read with Sections 17 and 19 of Act, 2005 grants an entitlement in favour of the woman of the right of residence under the shared household irrespective of her having any legal interest in the same or not."
The Honorable Court had also made it clear that 'right to residence' is not an indefeasible right. "83. Before we close our discussion on Section 2(s), we need to observe that the right to residence under Section 19 is not an indefeasible right of residence in shared household especially when the daughter-in-law is pitted against aged father-in-law and mother-in-law. The senior citizens in the evening of their life are also entitled to live peacefully not haunted by marital discord between their son and daughter-in-law. While granting relief both in application under Section 12 of Act, 2005 or in any civil proceedings, the Court has to balance the rights of both the parties................."
Thus the rule laid down by the Apex Court has been that: "The definition of shared household given in Section 2(s) cannot be read to mean that shared household can only be that household which is household of the joint family of which husband is a member or in which husband of the aggrieved person has a share."
It is also worthwhile to note that the Apex Court has not given the final decision in the matter, but had only upheld the decision of the High Court in remitting the matter to the Trial Court.
Thus, the relevance of any precedent depends upon the facts and circumstances and any suggestion in the absence of material facts and circumstance highlighting the real issue/grievance would be too haphazard and tantamount to misguidance.