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Wives can reside in shared house not owned by husband: Supreme Court on Domestic Violence Act

The top court has observed that the wife, fighting domestic violence cases would have the right to claim the “shared household” of the joint family under the Domestic Violence Act; even if her husband had no legal right to the house and the same was owned by the father-in-law or mother-in-law.  In effect, Indian women can now claim residential rights at her in-laws house both during and after domestic violence proceedings.

Section 2(s) of the domestic violence act that defines “shared property”, includes property not belonging to the husband. According to the definition in the provision, “a shared household means a household where the person aggrieved lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent.”

The Supreme Court ruled 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.”

In stating so, the court reversed the law held by a previous decision of the Supreme Court in December 2006 in SR Batra v Taruna Batra where on similar facts, a two-judge bench refused permission to the wife to continue staying in her husband’s house as it was owned by her mother-in-law.

                                                        LEARNING WITH TIMES



          The Act( a civil law) is enacted to protect wife or female live-in partner at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives, the law also extends its protection to women living in a household such as sisters, widows or mothers from domestic violence-definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.

           Domestic violence under the act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic.Any form of harassment, coercion, harm to health, safety, limb or well-being is covered.

Physical abuse: Defined as act or conduct that is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person’. Physical abuse also includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force.
Sexual abuse: The legislation defines this as conduct of “sexual nature” that ‘abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of a woman.’
Verbal and emotional abuse: Insults/ ridicule of any form, including those with regard to inability to have a male child, as well as repeated threats.
Economic abuse: Categorized as including deprivation of financial resources required for survival of the victim and her children, the disposing of any assets which the victim has an interest/stake in and prohibition/restriction of financial resources which the victim is used to while in the domestic relationship.