Domestic Violence Act: Women have the right to residence at estranged in-laws

Setting aside it's earlier ruling, the SC strengthened women's rights to a 'shared residence'

Under the Domestic Violence Act that aims to ensure the protection of daughters-in-law, a woman can live in her husband’s family home even if it was rented or owned by the in-laws and the husband had no ownership rights on it.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah overruled the top court’s verdict from 2006, which denied an estranged woman the right of residence in her husband’s home.

During Thursday’s hearing, the Supreme Court said that a shared household does not only mean a household of the joint family of which husband is a member or in which husband of the aggrieved person has a share.

Ousting the previous ruling that stated that the aggrieved could have the right to residence only if her husband owned the house or shared ownership rights over it.

The bench, in an attempt to give a broader meaning to term "shared household", stressed on the prevalence of domestic violence cases in the country. The court said the cases went unreported a lot of times because a woman is expected to be subservient to her husband and her family members.

Under such circumstances, a woman resigns herself to the never-ending cycle of enduring violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner or a single woman in her lifetime, it said,

The judgment dismissed a petition filed by one Satish Chander Ahuja against the Delhi High Court ruling, which stated that his daughter-in-law Sneha Ahuja had the right of residence even though she was in the process of divorce from her husband Raveen Ahuja.

Satish Ahuja had also appealed that his son had no share in the house as the property was his self-earned.

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