The Delhi High Court on Tuesday held that the provisions of Domestic Violence Act, being a social welfare legislation, cannot be used by a son as a ploy to either claim a right in his father’s property or to retain possession of the same on the strength of his wife’s right of residence. The matter pertained to a property dispute between a Father Vs his son and his wife, where the daughter-in-law invoked Domestic Violence Act to retain her husband’s share in the property.
Justice Pratibha Singh observed,
The provisions of the DV Act cannot be used as a ploy by the son, to either claim a right in his father’s property or continue to retain possession of the father’s property, on the strength of his wife’s right of residence.
The father had filed a suit against his son and daughter-in-law seeking decree of permanent injunction against them thereby restraining them from disposing-off the suit property.
It was thus the case of the father, that he being the owner of property, permanent injunction was sought in view of various disputes between him and the defendants being his son and daughter-in-law.
Arguments By Defendants (Son & His Wife)
On the other hand, it was the case of the defendants that the property in question was purchased from the joint family fund and that it was generated out of the sale of the earlier property, to which he (son) had a right, something which does not exclusively belong to the father.
Arguments By Plaintiff (Father)
The contention of the defendants that they cannot be removed from the house/suit property because the suit property is the shared house-hold and as members of the joint family property is not tenable as defendant no.2 (daughter-in-law) can claim her rights from her husband i.e. defendant no.1 only and not from her father-in-law/plaintiff, who has no duty to provide residence to either son or daughter-in-law. The reference may also be held to the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in S. R. Batra and Anr. vs. Smt. Taruna Batra. 1(2007) SLTl.
The Trial Court had held that the plaintiff father was the exclusive owner of the said property and the son and daughter-in-law i.e., the defendants were merely licensees. Accordingly, a decree was passed in favour of the plaintiff in his application under Order 12 Rule 6 of CPC.
The First Appellate Court confirmed the findings of the Trial Court. The same was challenged by way of a second appeal in the High Court by the son and daughter-in-law.
Delhi High Court
Going through the facts on record, Justice Pratibha Singh said,
A civil dispute relating to ownership of property cannot be converted, in this manner, into a case under the DV Act, as the same would amount to be an abuse of the beneficial provisions of the DV Act, by stretching it over and beyond its purpose and ambit.
These pleas are very generalised in nature, and clearly appear to be pleas which are taken to highlight the domestic problem within the family members rather than to set up a case under the DV Act.
Admittedly, there are no complaints that have been preferred against the father-in-law and there are no cases filed or pending under the DV Act, or any other legislation at the instance of the daughter-in-law.
The high court further said that “remote allegations against the brother i.e., the devar, in the written statement, would not result in a finding of ‘shared household’, where the daughter-in-law, by herself, would have to be given a right of residence. The court observed,
While the DV Act is a social welfare legislation granting protection to women who are victims of domestic violence, every dispute amongst family members cannot be converted into a dispute under the DV Act. The same ought not to be allowed to happen, as it may cause unintended misuse of the provisions of the said Act creating turmoil within families, especially when there is no matrimonial dispute whatsoever between husband and the wife, i.e., son and daughter-in-law,” the Court observed at the outset.
Concluding the matter the high court also said,
There is no complaint of Domestic Violence raised by the daughter-in-law before any forum. In fact, to the contrary, the Plaintiff has filed complaints against his son and daughter-in-law with police repeatedly, alleging ill-treatment and abuse.
The court also said that the following peculiar facts arising in this case, deserve to be highlighted:
- The ownership of the Plaintiff in the suit property is not in dispute
- The sale of the property of the mother, which took place in 2011, was never challenged by the Defendants
- The purchase of this suit property in the name of the Plaintiff was never challenged by the Defendants
- There is no complaint of Domestic Violence raised by the daughter-in-law before any forum. In fact, to the contrary, the Plaintiff has filed complaints against his son and daughter-in-law with police repeatedly, alleging ill-treatment and abuse
- The Defendants i.e., the son and daughter-in-law are living together peacefully. The written statement before the trial court was filed jointly. The first appeal was also filed jointly, and so is the present second appeal. There is no estrangement or marital discord between them
- The order passed in the application under Order XII Rule 6 CPC has also been executed and the Defendants have already moved out of the suit property and are living in alternate premises
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal by observing that the judgments of the Trial Court and the first Appellate Court do not warrant interference.
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