A wife’s right to a common household under the Law on Domestic Violence will prevail against a decree obtained by her elderly in-laws under the Law on Older Citizens, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.
The order is expected to provide the necessary isolation to wives who are struggling with hostile lawsuits, giving them much-needed respite from being evicted from their husbands’ homes. This decision follows a judgment of the higher court two months ago, in which the Court stated that, even if the joint household is a common property of the family in which the spouse has no legal right or action, the same will continue to be dealt with. for a common household for the wife to remain in place.
The present case has sparked a rather interesting clash between two special laws – the 2005 Law on the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence (PWDV), which seeks to protect wives facing domestic violence, and the 2007 Law on the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Children. for the elderly, created to protect the elderly by providing a quick and inexpensive remedy to secure their interests at an advanced stage of life.
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Judges DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee examined both laws and found that Section 3 of the 2007 Act had a primary effect on any other law. Through this argument, the elderly parents of the husband used to obtain an eviction order against their daughter-in-law from their home in Bengaluru. On September 17, 2019, the High Court in Karnataka upheld the order to evacuate the cloud that appealed to the Supreme Court on appeal.
Coming to her rescue, the bank said: “Section 3 of the Older Citizens Act, 2007 cannot be carried out to override and nullify other protections in the law, in particular that of a woman’s right to a common household in accordance with section 17 of the PWDV Act 2005. “
The Bank noted that both pieces of legislation are intended to address health issues of public welfare and interest. However, the definition of “common household” was exhaustive, the bank noted, citing the October 2020 ruling by the higher court while dealing with similar acts in which the wife was sought to be evicted by a court decree. by elderly in-laws. who owned the house in question.
Judge Chandrachud, who wrote the ruling for the bank, said: “The law that protects the interests of the elderly is meant to ensure that they are not left poor or at the mercy of their children or relatives. Similarly, the purpose of the PWDV Act 2005 cannot be ignored by a legal interpretation. Both sets of legislation must be interpreted harmoniously. “
The bank protected the petitioner’s wife and ordered that neither her husband nor her in-laws try to evacuate her from the common household for a year until she uses her remedies under the PWDV Act.
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The court said that in similar situations where a wife obtains an exemption from a court under the Elderly Citizens Act, she will be required to inform the magistrate who is hearing her case under the PWDV Act.
In the present case, as the divorce proceedings are pending between the spouses, the Court decided to re-establish the electricity connection for non-payment of the fee and asked the husband to continue paying the electricity taxes. The petitioner’s residential house is located in Hobli, North Bengaluru. The lawsuit against the petitioner was initiated by her mother-in-law under the Law on Older Citizens in 2015. Prior to that, in December 2013, a court of first instance ordered a divorce, and in March 2014, the petitioner applied for maintenance and even appealed to the Court. against the divorce decree that is still pending.