• The Supreme Court on Wednesday considered if the right of a woman to reside in the share household under section 17 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 could be defeated by the power of eviction under section 23 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
• The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee was hearing the plea of a married Hindu woman, residing at her in-laws' residence, challenging the order of eviction passed against her by the Deputy Commissioner.
• ThThis petition was for Special Leave to Appeal No. 12891/2020
DETAILS ABOUT THE PROPERTY
• The property in question was purchased three months after the marriage, and was claimed to be partly paid for out of the money given by the petitioner’s father to her husband at the time of marriage. Subsequently, the plot was sold by the husband to the petitioner's father-in-law, who, on construction of the house, gifted the same to the petitioner's mother-in-law.
• An order for payment of maintenance of Rs. 10,000 per month to his parents by the husband has also been passed. The facts of the case are that the husband has deserted the petitioner and is not living with her, and has married for a second time, even as the petition for divorce stands remanded.
• It was alleged by the petitioner that the proceedings under the 2007 Act have been initiated in connivance with each other by the petitioner's in-laws and her husband.
• "The Senior Citizens Act is intended to prevent destitution of senior citizens. But we can't create a situation where the daughter-in-law is left in a lurch...there is no doubt that senior citizens are subject to grave abuse, as are women in a marital relationship. We need to balance the two ends of the spectrum", observed Justice Chandrachud.
• "Yes, the High Courts have upheld the power of eviction as being implicit in section 23, but that is in the case of sons refusing to maintain their parents. Those facts don't arise before us", continued the judge.
• span>"Even if we take your case (the respondents) at the highest and deem her as a trespasser, we can't apply the norms of a commercial transaction here! We are aware of the judgment of this court of October 15 (holding that the right to residence under Section 19 of the DV Act is not an indefeasible right of residence in shared household, especially when the daughter-in-law is pitted against an aged father-in-law and mother-in-law, and while granting relief both in application under Section 12 of the D.V. Act or in any civil proceedings, the Court has to balance the rights of both parties). But this is a poor woman who has been deserted by her husband and is struggling to bring up her child!", said the judge.
• The bench also pulled up the respondent-husband- "A father's responsibility does not end at what the trial court says. The trial court has asked you to pay a maintenance of Rs. 3000 per month to your daughter, but in today's times, can you bring up a child with this amount? She is doing engineering, is it not part of your obligation to maintain your child? You will only pay Rs. 3000 even if she is to starve and there is no school, no college? You will leave her to the winds?", asked Justice Chandrachud.