The Calcutta High Court on Friday upheld the right of a senior citizen from Taherpur in Bengal’s Nadia district to reside in his house affirming that his son and daughter-in-law can be evicted as they are “at best licensees” living in the property.
The court said that the right of a senior citizen to exclusively reside in his own house must be viewed from the prism of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said,
A nation that cannot take care of its aged, old, and infirm citizens cannot be regarded as having achieved complete civilisation.
In this particular case, the Court vide an earlier order dated July 12, 2021 had directed the Officer-in-charge, Taherpur Police Station to escort out the son and daughter-in-law from the premises of the petitioners in order to ensure the well-being of the aged citizens. This was accordingly complied with and thereafter the Court proceeded to make certain pertinent observations.
The Court noted certain pointers while adjudicating upon a plea by two senior citizens (petitioners) seeking the eviction of the son and daughter-in-law from their residence.
Calcutta High Court
Acting on an order the court passed on July 12, the Taherpur police had escorted the petitioner’s son and daughter-in-law out of the property. The petitioner moved the court seeking their eviction. The order was passed on July 23 by Justice Rajasekhar Mantha after he virtually heard lawyers representing petitioner Ramapada Basak and the state.
Justice Mantha referred to orders earlier passed by the Delhi High Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court in similar cases. The court said,
It is now well settled that the children and their spouses living in the senior citizen’s house are at best “licensees”. Such licence comes to an end once the senior citizens are not comfortable with their children and their families.
The court noted that two issues would come up for consideration:
- First of which is the availability of an alternative remedy under the provisions of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents Senior Citizens Act, 2007
- Second is the right of a daughter-in-law of residence to be provided by either the husband or the father-in-law, if directed by a competent court under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005
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While passing the order, Justice Mantha also said,
However, the right of a senior citizen to exclusively reside in his own house must be viewed from the prism of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. To compel a senior citizen to approach either a civil court (the jurisdiction of which is any way barred under Section 27 of the 2007 Act) or take recourse to a special Statute like the 2007 Act would in most cases be extremely erroneous and painful for a person in the sunset days of life.
This court is therefore of the view that the principle of an alternative remedy cannot be strictly applied to senior citizens and a writ court must come to the aid of a senior citizen in a given case.
Daughter-in-Laws’ Right To Matrimonial Residence
The Court opined on a daughter-in-law’s right to residence if a claim to this effect is made under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
Accordingly, reliance was placed on the Supreme Court judgement in S. Vanitha v. Deputy Commissoner, Bangaluru Urban District wherein the Apex Court had held that since both, the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 and also the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 are special legislations, the two must be construed harmoniously and appropriately applied while adjudicating upon a plea of senior citizens who do not want their children to live with them.
The Supreme Court had ruled in the aforementioned case,
The law protecting the interest of senior citizens is intended to ensure that they are not left destitute, or at the mercy of their children or relatives. Equally, the purpose of the PWDV Act 2005 cannot be ignored by a sleight of statutory interpretation. Both sets of legislations have to be harmoniously construed.
However in the instant case, the daughter-in-law had not claimed any right of residence under the Domestic Violence Act. Accordingly, the Court held that there lies no impediment in allowing the petitioners (senior citizens) to exercise their exclusive residentiary rights and to direct the eviction of the son and daughter-in-law.
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