‘Elderly parents cannot use the Law on the elderly to evict their daughter-in-law’: SC
A wife’s right to a shared home under the Domestic Violence Law will prevail against a decree obtained by her elderly in-laws under the Senior Citizens Law, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The order is expected to offer the necessary isolation to wives fighting in court cases against hostile in-laws, giving them much-needed respite to be evicted from their husband’s home. This decision follows a judgment handed down by the superior court two months ago in which the court noted that even if the shared home is a joint family property where the husband does not have any legal rights or participation, it will be treated as a shared home. for the wife to keep staying.
The present case produced a rather interesting conflict between two special laws: the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act (PWDV) of 2005, which seeks to protect wives facing domestic violence, and the Law of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Seniors of 2007, created to protect the elderly by providing a quick and inexpensive remedy to secure their interests in an advanced stage of life.
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The court of judges DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee analyzed both laws and found that Section 3 of the 2007 Law had a primary effect on any other law. This was the argument used by the husband’s elderly parents to obtain an eviction order against their daughter-in-law from their home in Bengaluru. On September 17, 2019, the Karnataka High Court upheld the eviction order against the daughter-in-law which went to the Supreme Court on appeal.
Coming to her rescue, the court said: “Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act of 2007 cannot be implemented to override and nullify other protections in the law, particularly a woman’s right to a shared home under Section 17 of the PWDV Act of 2005. “
The court noted that both pieces of legislation are intended to address healthy aspects of welfare and the public interest. However, the definition of “ shared home ” was exhaustive, the court observed, citing the October 2020 judgment handed down by the superior court while dealing with similar events in which the wife was sought to be evicted through a court decree by the older in-laws. who owned the house in question.
Judge Chandrachud, writing the sentence for the court, said: “The law that protects the interests of the elderly is aimed at ensuring that they are not left helpless or at the mercy of their children or relatives. Similarly, the purpose of the PWDV Act of 2005 cannot be ignored by a trick of legal interpretation. Both sets of laws must be interpreted harmoniously. “
The court protected the petitioner’s wife and ordered that neither the husband nor her in-laws would attempt to forcibly evict her from their shared home for one year until she made use of the resources of the PWDV Act.
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The Court said that in similar situations where a wife obtains relief from a court under the Aging Act, she will have an obligation to inform the magistrate hearing her case under the PWDV Act.
In the present case, as the appeal in the divorce process between husband and wife was pending, the Court ordered the reestablishment of the electricity connection due to non-payment of fees and asked the husband to continue paying the electricity costs. The petitioner’s residential house is located in Hobli, North Bangalore. The lawsuit against the petitioner was initiated by her mother-in-law under the Law on the Elderly in 2015. Prior to this, in December 2013, a court of first instance decreed a divorce and in March 2014, the petitioner requested alimony and He even appealed to the High Court against the divorce sentence that is still pending.