Kusum Narottam Harsora Vs. Union of India

Two women filed complaints under several provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) against a man referred to as “PNH” and three of his female relatives. The petitioners were the mother and sister of PNH, and they alleged that he, his wife, and his two sisters were committing acts of domestic violence against them.

The three female respondents claimed that holding them as respondents in the present case was a misuse of the PWDVA, as PWDVA was intended to provide recourse to married women against their husband and husband’s relatives. One of the female respondents further claimed that she should not be held as a respondent because she did not technically live in their household and thus could not commit acts of “domestic violence.” On these grounds, the female respondents petitioned to have their names dropped from the complaint.

Rather than maintain a strict definition of “respondent,” the court chose to focus on the intention behind the PWDVA to protect women from domestic violence and thus held that all four of the respondents should remain respondents on the complaint.

[We] are inclined to hold that … the provisions of “respondent” in section 2(q) of the DV Act is not to be read in isolation but has to be read as a part of the scheme of the DV Act. … If so read, the complaint alleging acts of domestic violence is maintainable not only against an adult male person who is son or brother, who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved complainant – mother or sister – but the complaint can also be filed against a relative of the son or brother including wife of the son/wife or the brothers and sisters of the male respondent.

Paragraph 26Kusum Narottam Harsora Vs. Union of IndiaWrit Petition No. 300 of 2013

Navneet Arora vs. Surender Kaur

Navneet Arora was living with her husband and daughter in a household shared with several of her in-laws. The house was legally owned by Navneet Arora’s mother-in-law, Surender Kaur, when Navneet’s husband died.

Surender Kaur filed a suit for mandatory injunction against Navneet Arora. In an order dated March 21, 2014, the judge ruled in Surender Kaur’s favor, citing several Supreme Court decisions wherein it was held that an estranged daughter-in-law has no right to stay in the property owned by either her mother-in-law or her father-in-law.

Navneet Arora filed an appeal, claiming that under Section 2 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, her living situation with her in-laws qualifies as a “shared household,” and thus she has the right to reside there.

The Supreme Court pointed to the fact that all of the residents of the residence in question shared a common kitchen and ate meals together from a joint income, and that they all lived on the same floor in commensality. It further pointed out that Navneet Arora continued to reside their with her daughter after her husband’s death. They thus ruled in Navneet Arora’s favor, stating that this does legally qualify as a “shared household,” and thus she has a right to reside there.

On the first blush it may appear quite jarring to certain quarters of the society that by enacting the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 the legislature has invested a ‘right of residence’ in favour of wives qua premises in which they or their husband admittedly have no right, title or interest and such premises are in fact owned by the relatives of the husband. …[T]he Act does not confer any title or proprietary rights in favour of the aggrieved person as misunderstood by most, but merely secures a ‘right of residence’ in the ‘shared household’. Section 17(2) clarifies that the aggrieved person may be evicted from the ‘shared household’ but only in accordance with the procedure established by law. The legislature has taken care to calibrate and balance the interests of the family members of the respondent.

Paragraphs 58 and 59Navneet Arora vs. Surender Kaur2015(3)JCC2009

S.R. Batra and Anr. vs. Smt. Taruna Batra

Ms. Taruna Batra married Amit Batra on April 14, 2000, who is the son of the two appellants Mr. and Mrs. S.R. Batra. After the marriage, Taruna and her husband started residing together as husband and wife on the second floor of B-135, Ashok Vihar, Phase-I, Delhi, while S.R. Batra and his wife resided separately on the ground floor of the same property. The entire property was exclusively owned by Taruna Batra’s mother-in-law, Mrs. S.R. Batra.

Amit Batra filed for divorce, after which Taruna Batra lodged an FIR against her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. They were all arrested and granted bail after three days. As a result of the rising tensions, Taruna Batra shifted to her parent’s residence. Amit Batra, too, moved out of the residence and into his own flat in Ghaziabad. Later on, Taruna Batra tried to return to her old home at B-135, Ashok Vihar, Phase-I, Delhi, but found it locked. She filed a suit seeking mandatory injunction to enable her to enter the house but, before any order could be passed, she forcibly broke into the residence.

In back-and-forth appeals, a central question arose: Should the second floor of this property be considered Taruna Batra’s matrimonial home? The issue reached the Supreme Court, and became a landmark judgment clarifying the legal definition of “shared household.” The Supreme Court determined that in order for a home to be considered a “shared household”, the husband must either own the property, he must pay rent on the property, or the house must belong to a joint family of which the husband is a member. The court therefore ruled that the property in question does not count as a “shared household.”

Full Citation: S.R. Batra and Anr. vs. Smt. Taruna Batra, (2007)3SCC169

Sou. Sandhya Manoj Wankhade vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade and Ors.

Sandhya Manoj Wankhade moved in with Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade and his mother and sister following their marriage in 2005. About a year later, she began experiencing abuses from the three of them, for which she filed complaints under several articles of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA).

There were back-and-forth applications and petitions for appeals from both sides, and a central question arose: is it lawful for a woman to lodge complaints against female relatives of her husband under the PWDVA? The language of the law was unclear.

The high court ruled in favor of the husband’s female relatives, thus blocking them from certain charges outlined in the PWDVA. The issue went to the Supreme Court, who ruled in Sandhya Manoj Wankhade’s favor saying that it is in fact permissible to hold female relatives as respondents under the act.

Full Citation: Sou. Sandhya Manoj Wankhade vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade and Ors., (2011)3SCC650

V. D. Bhanot vs. Savita Bhanot

V.D. Bhanot and Savita Bhanot were married in 1980 and lived together until 2005. In 2006, Savita Bhanot filed a petition for various reliefs under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA). She sought monetary relief from her husband, and the protection of her right to reside in her matrimonial home, both of which she was entitled to under PWDVA.

The main question that arose in this petition was whether or not Savita Bhanot was entitled to maintain a petition under the provisions of PWDVA if the act of domestic violence in question occurred before PWDVA was enacted. In consideration of the intention behind PWDVA, the Delhi High Court held that she was in fact eligible for the benefits it provides, despite the fact that the relevant act of domestic violence occurred before its enactment.

This case is also notable for the fact that the court interpreted “domestic violence” liberally in favor of Savita Bhanot. Specifically, it held that forcing Savita Bhanot to live alone in rented accommodation that she did not feel safe in constituted an act of domestic violence, and thus was considered illegal in view of PWDVA.

Juveria Abdul Majid Patni Vs. Atif Iqbal Mansoori

Juveria Abdul Majid Patni and Atif Iqbal Mansoori got married according to Muslim rites and rituals in May 2015. The appellant experienced various abuses from the respondent, for which she lodged an FIR against him in 2007. The appellant claimed that she obtained an ex parte Khula from Mufti under the Muslim Personal Law in May 2008, but whether or not the couple legally completed the divorce process was contested. In September 2009, the appellant filed a petition under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA) for abuses that had occurred prior to their divorce.

Two main questions arose in this case: first, did the couple complete the divorce process in 2008? And second, can a divorced woman seek reliefs against her ex-husband under Sections 18 to 23 of the PWDVA?

The court determined that the couple’s divorce effectively took place in May 2008. It further determined that once an act of domestic violence has been committed, a subsequent decree of divorce will not absolve the liability of the respondent from the offence committed or deny the benefit to which the aggrieved person is entitled under the PWDVA.

An act of domestic violence once committed, subsequent decree of divorce will not absolve the liability of the Respondent from the offence committed or to deny the benefit to which the aggrieved person is entitled under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 including monetary relief Under Section 20, Child Custody Under Section 21, Compensation Under Section 22 and interim or ex parte order Under Section 23 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Paragraph 31Juveria Abdul Majid Patni Vs.
 Atif Iqbal Mansoori(2014)10SCC736

B.P. Achala Anand vs. S. Appi Reddy and Anr.

Smt. B.P. Achala Anand had been living in a tenanted apartment under her estranged husband’s name for several years when the landlord initiated proceedings for eviction. Smt. Achala’s husband, H.S. Anand, appeared in court to defend the suit, but it appears that he was not invested in defending his claim to remain on the property considering that he had a strained relationship with his wife and was no longer living there.

Smt. Achala decided to take matters into her own hands and filed an appeal to defend against the eviction. The landlord filed a petition contesting Smt. Achala’s right to be involved in the suit as it was a landlord-tenant dispute, and she was not the written tenant. While this matter was pending in the High Court, Smt. Achala and H.S. Anand got divorced.

The Supreme Court ruled that wives of tenants have the right to join as party to such eviction proceedings and to defend their right to remain in their matrimonial home. However, in this particular case, Smt. Achala was not permitted to prosecute the appeal and defend her right against the claim for eviction, as the property was no longer considered her matrimonial home by the end of the proceedings on account of the divorce.

Ambreen Akhoon vs. Aditya Aurn Paudwal and Ors.

Ambreen Akhoon initiated legal proceedings against her husband and mother-in-law under Section 26 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) before the Family Court. Confusion arose because of differing restrictions on who can be held as a respondent under PWDVA versus under Family Court laws. Specifically, under Section 7 of the Family Courts Act only parties to the marriage (i.e. the husband or wife) can be respondents, but section 26 of PWDVA has a wider definition, and thus relatives of the husband can be held as a respondents under the act.

Akhoon’s mother-in-law filed an application to be removed as a respondent to the proceedings on the grounds that the Family Court guidelines for “respondent” have precedent over PWDVA guidelines. The Judge of the Family Court at Bandra, Mumbai issued an order siding with the mother-in-law. Akhoon filed this petition against the Family Court’s order; the High Court of Bombay sided with Akhoon, thus overruling the mother-in-law’s petition to be exempted from the proceedings.