New Delhi: Women fighting legal battles to
re-enter the "shared household" can enforce their right to
cohabit against estranged spouses and not against in-laws
under the Domestic Violence Act, a Delhi court has said.
"If the interpretation (that the Act provides right to
share house with husband`s relatives) is accepted, all the
houses of the husband`s relatives will be shared households
and the wife can well insist in living in them merely because
she had stayed with her husband for some time in them in the
past. Such a view would lead to chaos and would be absurd,"
Additional Sessions Judge S K Sarvaria said.
The court, which rejected the plea of an estranged wife
seeking re-entry into a house of her mother-in-law, cited a
judgement of the Supreme Court on the issue and said such
practices were not prevalent in the country.
"Undoubtedly, when the husband has been living in a
tenanted property somewhere else, wife cannot say that the
property owned ... by her mother-in-law (even prior to her
marriage) is the shared household and she should be allowed to
re-enter such property," it said.
The apex court had observed that provision of the Act,
which give women right to share household, was the result of
"clumsy drafting" and required to be interpreted in a sensible
way which does not lead to chaos in society, the court said.
"The wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence
in a shared household, and a `shared household` would only
mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband,
or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the
husband is a member," it said.
It was hearing the appeal filed by a Delhi-based woman
who had challenged the order of a lower court by which she was
restrained from entering into the house owned by her
Earlier, the magisterial court had allowed her the
re-entry into the house in an ex-parte hearing. But, it
vacated the order during subsequent hearing after taking into
account the fact that her estranged husband was living in a
separate rented accommodation.