A house owned by a woman’s in-laws cannot be considered a “shared household” the Bombay High Court has ruled.
The high court recently stayed an order of a magistrate court reserving a bedroom for a woman, who had left her husband’s house, in her matrimonial home saying the apartment cannot be defined “shared household” under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The woman got married to a Borivli resident on February 14, 2009. She left her matrimonial home in August 2009 following disputes with her husband. She lodged a complaint with Metropolitan Magistrates Court at Borivli under the Domestic Violence Act.
As interim relief, the woman sought the right to continue staying in her matrimonial home. Section 2 of the Act protects the right of residence of estranged women in a shared household.
On June 25, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate directed one bedroom in the matrimonial home be made available to her. The magistrate also restricted her in-laws’ access to the bedroom only to the extent of fulfilling their parental obligations.
The woman’s mother-in-law challenged the interim order in the sessions court and approached the high court after the former rejected her plea.
The in-laws argued their estranged daughter-in-law had no right to enter the matrimonial home since it belonged to them and not her husband.
They said a house owned by in-laws cannot be termed “shared household” as defined in the Domestic Violence Act. They relied on a Supreme Court judgment, which says interim protection cannot be granted to a wife when the house belongs to the in-laws.
A single judge bench of Justice V.M. Kanade accepted their contention and stayed the order of the lower court saying it was difficult accept that a house owned by in-laws could be treated as a shared household.