The complainant had appealed in the high court saying she was thrown out of her matrimonial home. The court said a woman gets the right to live in her matrimonial home or a shared household irrespective of whether it belongs to or is owned by her husband.
The Bombay high court has held that a woman gets the right to live in her matrimonial home or a shared household irrespective of whether it belongs to or is owned by her husband.
It relied on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act to direct a man not to dispossess his wife until the Family Court decides on his plea— to declare their marriage a nullity as she was not divorced from the first husband or to grant him a divorce. The husband claimed she had barged into his father’s Mulund home.
After its initial status quo order in September 2014 and after it directed the husband not to dispossess her, the Family Court vacated it in May 2017, saying the Mulund flat exclusively belongs to the father-in-law and the son stays separately in Navi Mumbai.
It also said that since there is nothing to prove the son has any interest or title in the property along with his father, the wife has no right to claim any relief in respect of the property.
The wife appealed in the HC, saying she was thrown out of her matrimonial home. Her advocate Rajesh Dharap argued that the flat may be in the name of the father-in-law, but as it is her matrimonial home, she is entitled to reside there and cannot be dispossessed or restrained from entering it. The husband’s advocate said it is a settled position in law that the wife can have a right of residence only in the property owned or possessed by her husband and not his relatives.
Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi on October 12 noted that the Domestic Violence Act has been enacted to secure the right of a woman to reside in her matrimonial or shared household irrespective of whether she has any right, title or interest in it. The judge said till the dispute started, both resided in the Mulund flat and, therefore, as they have lived together as a couple in a domestic relationship, it becomes her shared household under the Act and she gets the right to reside in it. “In such a situation, whether the said flat belongs to or is owned by the respondent husband, is totally irrelevant,” she added.
The judge said there was nothing to show the husband had actually shifted his residence to Navi Mumbai and in his application for anticipatory bail, the flat in Mulund had been shown as his address. “This court cannot fall victim to the tricks or ploys played by the respondent husband in such cases,” she added.
The judge said the Family Court “has not considered all these aspects, especially the very clear provisions of the DV Act, and straightaway vacated the status quo order…” “The impugned order, therefore, passed by the Family Court cannot be called as just, legal and correct. Hence it needs to be set aside,” said Justice Phansalkar-Joshi. Restoring the Family Court’s status quo order, she directed it to decide the husband’s plea within six months.