SC: Woman in a Shared Household Can’t Be Evicted u. Senior Citizen Act, Overrules 2006 SR Batra Judgement

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The domestic violence in this country is rampant and several women encounter violence in some form or the other or almost every day, however, it is the least reported form of cruel behaviour. A woman resigns her fate to the never-ending cycle of enduring violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner or a single woman in her lifetime.

The Supreme Court, while answering the question pertaining to the interpretation and importance of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 regarding the Right of Residence in the shared household, on Tuesday, held that the right of a woman to secure a residence order in respect of a shared household cannot be defeated by the simple expedient of securing an order of eviction by adopting the summary procedure under the Senior Citizens Act, after observing the facts in the case of S Vanitha vs. Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban District.

Brief Facts of the case

An application was filed under the Senior Citizens Act, as a senior citizen couple seek eviction of their daughter-in-law and their grand-daughter from their residential house. The application, even though allowed by the Assistant Commissioner, was later, upheld by the deputy Commissioner in appeal.

As the Karnataka High upheld these orders while dismissing the writ petitions filed by the daughter-in-law, the case was moved to the Apex court.

The daughter-in-law then contended in the Supreme Court that under the protection which is offered by s.17 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, she can not be given the notice of evicting the premises. The jurisdiction of the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 was also contended by her in court, relying on the judgement passed by a 3-judge bench consisting of Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice Shah in Satish Chander v. Sneha Ahuja, as they overruled the law laid down in SR Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169, and elaborately discussed the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act of 2005.

Judgement

As the bench observed both the pieces of Legislation, it said that both the legislations intent to improve the Public Welfare and Interest by dealing with the Salutary Aspects of the same.

The bench passed the judgment making sure that it protected the petitioner and held that neither the husband nor her in-laws can try and forcefully evict her from the shared household for one year, until she avails a remedy under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Justice Chandrachud mentioned,

“The law protecting the interest of senior citizens is intended to ensure that they are not left destitute, or at the mercy of their children or relatives. Equally, the purpose of the PWDV Act 2005 cannot be ignored by a sleight of statutory interpretation. Both sets of legislations have to be harmoniously construed.”

A divorce appeal is in order, in the present case. Therefore, the court has directed the husband to continue paying for the electricity charges, hence ordering restoration of electric connection.

The residential house is situated in Hobli, (North) Bangalore. The suit was instituted against the petitioner by her mother-in-law under the Senior Citizens Act, in 2015 and a trial court decreed divorce was filed prior to the suit, in December 2013.

The Judgement was delivered by a three-judge bench consisting of J. Indu Malhotra, J. DY Chandrachud and J. Indira Banerjee.


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