The Bombay high court has allowed a man to stay in his own two-bedroom house, six years after he was allegedly driven out by his wife and her relatives and forced to stay in a hotel in Mumbai.
Justice FM Reis and justice VM Kanade, in a recent order, ruled the husband would stay in one bedroom, while the wife would live in the other in the 700 sq ft flat in suburban Bandra.
The court directed the woman to hand over duplicate keys of the house to her husband within two weeks and asked both not to interfere with each other's possession.
The court allowed the man to use the kitchen and bathroom and ruled that other common facilities shall be utilised by both the parties.
The woman sought a stay on the order, but the court rejected her plea.
According to the man, he was forced to leave his flat on July 22, 2007, on account of harassment at the hands of his wife and her relatives. Thereafter, he was not allowed to return home and when he tried to gain entry into the flat, his brother-in-law assaulted him. As a result, since 2007, he was staying in a hotel.
The woman denied the allegation that her brother or her family was staying in the house. She said her mother had left her lucrative job and stayed with her in the house.
The woman added she had suffered physical and mental cruelty at her husband’s hands and there would be complications if he was permitted to stay in the house.
The court, however, noted that the family court had dismissed the husband's petition for divorce and the house belonged to him as he had purchased it before marriage. Therefore, he could not be prevented from staying there.
The court observed though several attempts were made to resolve the dispute, it appeared that settlement was impossible.
The court also stayed an April 21 order of the family court ordering the man to pay his wife monthly maintenance of Rs 20,000.
The judges noted the trial (family) court had erred in awarding the maintenance allowance to the wife in the petition filed by the husband for divorce, particularly when the divorce petition was dismissed by the court. “As such, no such order of maintenance could have been passed.”
The judges, however, clarified the woman had the option of seeking maintenance either under section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act or under section 125 of The Code of Criminal Procedure.