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Monday, the Delhi High Court allowed a parents-in-law to sell their property, where her daughter-in-law claimed the property as a shared house.

“According to petitioner the property in question is a shared household property where she had lived with her husband and so, she cannot be alienated from the said property.”

The petitioner (daughter-in-law) filed an application under Section 19(1)(d) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (“DV Act”). In March, 2021, the learned magistrate granted relief to the petitioner and restrained the respondents parents-in-law from selling-off the property.

“the learned Magistrate…granted interim relief to petitioner restraining the respondents from selling or alienating the property in question”.

The respondents being aggrieved from the restraining order, preferred a revision petition before the Court of Sessions, and the said revision petition turned to appeal was allowed in May 2021 in favour of parent’s-in-law. After, which the petitioner herein the wife approached the Delhi High Court and heard on 11th May 2021, and the final arguments in lenth took place on 13th may 2021. Order reserved and pronounced on 17th May 2021.

The Counsels submissions

The learned counsel for petitioner Mr. Jatan Singh, said that the order passed by the learned Appellate Court “shows utter non application of mind, as it has been passed without considering the facts and circumstances of the case”. He relied on the Satish Chandra Ahuja case and stated that the law laid down in the said judgement “does not distinguish between permanent living or short duration living in the shared household.”

“Learned counsel submitted that the learned Sessions Judge has failed to consider the provisions of Section 2(a) and 2(s) of DV Act, 2005 and has also failed to correctly interpret the law laid down the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Satish Chandra Ahuja Vs. Sneha Ahuja 2021 (1) SCC 148, as the said decision does not distinguish between permanent living or short duration living in the shared household.”

The learned counsel for the respondents, Mr. Roopenshu Pratap Singh, submitted that the mother-in-law is the sole owner and she has rights to sell the property.

Mr. Roopenshu Pratap Singh, further submitted that the daughter-in-law has visited them occasionally, “so, the house cannot be said to be a shared household.”.

“Further submitted that the learned Appellate Court has rightly passed the impugned judgment while discussing the various provisions of law and applying the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Satish Chandra Ahuja (Supra)”.

The Bench

The bench said that the learned Appellate Court has discussed the various provisions of law under the DV Act with regard to shared house hold, while passing the impugned judgement. Also shared the learned Appellate Court observation as,

“The provision grants a right to the aggrieved person to reside in shared house-hold irrespective of her right, title or interest in the same. Sub-sec.-2 of the Sec.-17 of the Statute provides that the aggrieved person shall not be evicted or excluded from the shared house-hold save in accordance with procedure established by law. Exclusion, here, cannot be read to protect titular interests of aggrieved person.”

The bench further discussed that, the learned Appellate Court set aside the order of the learned Metropolitan Magistrate due to the “short durational visits or stay”.

“The Appellate Court accordingly held that these short durational visits or stay of daughter-in-law at the house of the parents-in-law would not get the house a colour of being a shared house hold and having hold so, the restraint order of the learned Metropolitan Magistrate was set aside.”

Over the stand of the petitioner that the Appellate Court has not followed the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Satish Chandra Ahuja case, the bench said that, the daughter-in-law was residing on the first floor of the subject property in Satish Chandra Ahuja case while in the present case the daughter-in-law has never resided.

“In Satish Chandra Ahuja (Supra) the daughter-in-law was residing on the first floor of the subject property and had therefore claimed her right as shared household but in the present case, the petitioner has actually never resided with the parents-in-laws.”

The bench further said that,

“The fact remains that petitioner never resided with parents-in-laws and always stayed at the place of posting of her husband and visited them occasionally. However, it cannot be lost sight of the fact that petitioner had been living with her husband in ‘official accommodation’ at the place of his posting and she cannot claim the said official accommodation as the shared household, but the element of living in ‘permanency’ has also to be seen. In this regard, the pertinent observations of The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Para-68 of decision Satish Chandra Ahuja (Supra), have been rightly relied upon by the Appellate Court in my considered opinion.”

The bench said that the petitioner has never resided for longer period in the house, so this can not be termed as “shared household”.

“The provisions of Section 17 of the DV Act stipulates that every woman in a domestic relationship shall have a right to reside in the shared household whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same. However, in the present case admittedly petitioner has in fact neither permanently nor for a longer period resided in the house of parents-in-laws and so, it cannot be termed as ‘shared household‘.”

The bench then dismissed the petition of the daughter-in-law and also said that the case should not be treated as a “precedent in any other case”.

“The present petition is accordingly dismissed while making it clear that the observations made by this Court are in the peculiar facts of the present case and shall not be treated as a precedent in any other case.”

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