Woman Cannot Be Ousted To Preserve In-Laws Peace Of Mind: Bombay High Court

Woman Cannot Be Ousted To Preserve In-Laws Peace Of Mind: Bombay High Court

The court clarified that senior citizens are entitled to peace of mind, but added that they cannot invoke their rights in a way that defeats the rights of a woman under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act).

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 12:08 AM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

A woman cannot be ousted from her matrimonial house and rendered homeless only to preserve the peace of mind of her elderly in-laws, the Bombay High Court said recently.

The court clarified that senior citizens are entitled to peace of mind, but added that they cannot invoke their rights in a way that defeats the rights of a woman under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act).

“No doubt, senior citizens are entitled to reside in their own house with peace and without any disturbance on account of marital discord between petitioner (daughter-in-law) and her husband. But at the same time, the machinery under the Senior Citizens Act cannot be used for the purpose of defeating the rights of a woman under Section 17 of the DV Act,” Justice Sandeep Marne said on March 18.

The court also noted that when there is a contest between the rights of senior citizens under the Senior Citizens Act and that of a woman under the DV Act, a “balancing act needs to be done, and the rights of senior citizens cannot be decided in isolation”.

The HC quashed the order passed by the tribunal under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act which directed the eviction of a woman (petitioner) from her matrimonial house in JVPD Scheme in Juhu, on a complaint by her mother-in-law.

The two married in 1997 and have a daughter, 26, who is settled in the US, and a son, 21, pursuing a management course in the city.

There was a dispute between the two in November 2022 and the woman filed the complaint with the police against her husband. The father-in-law and the husband filed a counter complaint against the woman. The mother-in-law then filed a complaint with the tribunal against her son and woman seeking their eviction.

The tribunal, on September 18, 2023, directed the couple to vacate the flat.

The woman challenged the order before the HC contending that her estranged husband had misused the tribunal through his mother to throw her out of her matrimonial home, even as her plea for protecting her right of residence was pending before a metropolitan magistrate court.

Justice Marne found substance in the woman’s contention.

The mother-in-law’s advocate Vivek Kantawala argued that the woman had made allegations of harassment against her father-in-law and that senior citizens cannot be made to live under the threat of being implicated under false accusations.

The court has said that even though the woman’s husband was also asked to vacate the flat, he continued to reside in the flat. Also, the woman was not earning herself and had no other place to call home. “Therefore, the petitioner cannot be rendered homeless to ensure the peace of mind of the senior citizens,” the court concluded.

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