IN THE Supreme Court first judgment involving the recent Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, the definition of 'shared household' - mentioned in the Act - has been clarified. A shared household is only property owned by a woman’s husband, or by a joint family of which the husband is a member. It does not include the self-acquired property of any of the woman’s in-laws.
A bench of justices S.B. Sinha and Markandey Katju on December 15 noted that the definition of shared household in the Act “appears to be the result of clumsy drafting". They dismissed the claim of a Delhi woman who had been living with her husband and his parents in a house owned by the husband's mother. Her husband having filed for divorce, she wanted the court to direct him to provide her alternative accommodation, since she had been living in his ‘shared household’.
“We have to give the Act an interpretation which is sensible and does not lead to chaos in society," the court said. Section 17(1) of the Act says that every woman in a domestic relationship shall have the right to reside in a shared household, whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in it.