A Hindu woman cannot be evicted from the matrimonial home after divorce except through procedure established by law, as there is no provision for her automatic eviction, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice SD Mukhopadhyay, in a judgment, said though a woman may not have a legal right to continue in the house of the ex-husband, yet the latter cannot forcibly evict her.
The court gave the ruling while upholding an appeal filed by Ranjit Kaur challenging the decisions of the Punjab and Haryana HC which had upheld her eviction from the house of a disputed property upon a decree of divorce granted to the husband Major Harmohinder Singh, an army officer.
“...even though in the decree of divorce, the appellant has not been given a right of residence and her occupation of the suit property can be treated as unauthorised, respondent No 1 (Singh) cannot evict her except after following the procedure established by law.
“The material placed on record shows that the appellant had entered into the property as the wife of respondent No. 1.
Therefore, even though, after passing of the decree of the divorce she may not have a legal right to continue to remain in possession of the suit property, respondent No. 1 cannot be given liberty to forcibly evict her,” the bench said.
The apex court, however, rejected the plea of the woman that Singh should be restrained from alienating the suit property (house).
The couple was staying at the disputed property in SAS Nagar, Mohali. They were married in 1978.
A decree of divorce was granted on October 4, 2001, in favour of the husband who had filed a petition under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty.