NEW DELHI: A daughter-in-law has no right to continue to occupy the self-acquired property of her parents-in-law against their wishes, the Delhi high court has held in a significant order.
Justice A K Pathak in a recent verdict, made it clear that a self-acquired property doesn’t fall under the definition of a “shared household” enunciated in the Domestic Violence Act and a daughter in law can’t enforce her right in such a property.
In fact, HC went a step further, holding that even an adult son or daughter has no legal right to occupy the self-acquired property of the parents against their consent.
“Daughter-in-law cannot assert her rights, if any, in the property of her parents-in-law wherein her husband has no right, title or interest. She cannot continue to live in such a house of her parents-in-law against their consent and wishes. In my view, even an adult son or daughter has no legal right to occupy the self-acquired property of the parents; against their consent and wishes. A son or daughter if permitted to live in the house occupies the same as a gratuitous licensee and if such licence is revoked, he has to vacate the said property,” the court noted in its order.
HC was hearing an appeal by the daughter-in-law against a trial court’s verdict directing her to hand over peaceful and vacant possession of the property to her estranged father-in-law. In her plea in HC the woman said she is a legally wedded wife and has a right to live in the property from where her father-in-law wants her evicted.
She claimed that the property was purchased out of joint family funds. Accusing the father-in-law and husband of harassing her for dowry, she informed HC that she is living separately from her husband due to matrimonial discord and divorce proceedings are on. Under DV Act, the property is a shared household where she has the right to reside, the wife maintained.
But the father in law through advocate Prabhjit Jauhar told HC that he is sole owner of the self-acquired property. Jauhar also convinced the court that the property was not purchased from joint family funds and his son had no share in it.
The father-in-law furnished before the court proof that he disowned his son in 2010 who has since then been living separately.
Justice Pathak concluded that the legal position “which can be culled out from the above reports is that the daughter-in-law has no right to continue to occupy the self -acquired property of her parents-in-law against their wishes more so when her husband has no independent right therein nor is living there, as it is not a “shared household” within the meaning of Section 17(1) of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.”
HC also took into account lack of evidence to show that suit property was purchased from joint family funds.
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Wife versus mistress
But it is still a man’s world
Ten men are not chasing a single woman — as was anticipated after the drastic fall in the number of baby girls born over the last decade. The worst-case- scenario painted by the demographers may still be some time away. So far it is the same old wife versus mistress story, retold in the communist yet capitalist Republic of China, where a typical wife in the fastest growing economy is unhappy sharing the wallet of her husband with his mistress. Apart from sharing the conjugal rights! Despite the enviable economic growth achieved by both sexes, the social matrix still seems to be in favour of men — as they continue to enjoy the affections of the two – the wife and the mistress, both vying for the men in power. Keeping mistresses had always been the prerogative of the rich and powerful and China seems to be no exception. The anti-mistress association founded by Liu Zhixian, who failed to persuade her husband to abandon his mistress is now seeking to provide an online platform to other distressed sisters, to share the agonies of wifehood.
The chances of mistresses creating a similar platform may be thin due to social stigma attached to their status. The Chinese sisters would do well if they learnt a thing about Indian law, which, by a recent intervention of the apex court, recognised the live-in relationship as legal and also allowed a woman who has lived in a relationship for a considerable amount of time benefits of maintenance under Section 125 of the Cr P C. After all, in a global village things travel fast, and China is not far.
They may also get some solace from the fact that in India it is not only the weaker sex that suffers from such agonies of spouse betrayal, in a rare example of gender equality this country launched a forum created by harassed husbands, christened hypocritically as ‘Save India Family Foundation’, with branches in 50 cities of 20 states and an enviable following by the battered men. Ms Zhixian and the wives club could also draw some succour from the fact that many American counsellors suggest extra- marital relationship to save a marriage. Their marriage is on solid ground — going by these parameters.
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NEW DELHI: A man’s second marriage cannot be a ground for denying him custody of his child, a Delhi court has said while granting guardianship of a 10-year-old boy to his father who remarried after his wife’s death.
The boy had been living with his maternal grandparents since his mother’s death. Guardian judge Gautam Manan rejected the grandparents’ contention that it would not be in the child’s interest to live with his stepmother.
“The second marriage of the petitioner cannot be held to be a disability,” the court said, noting that the man’s elder daughter was living with him and being brought up well by her stepmother.
“There is no evidence that the stepmother of the child has maltreated the sister of the minor… (who) is getting a good education,” the judge said, allaying the grandparents’ fears.
‘Dad can impart moral values to child’
The court said the man, a resident of Begumpur in south Delhi, “being the natural father of the minor, is more likely to impart moral and ethical values in the child”. It added the company of the child’s elder sister will be “fruitful” in his growth.
The man, earning Rs 12,000 a month, had approached the court seeking permanent custody of his son, who had been living with his maternal grandparents since he was seven months old.
Agreeing with his arguments, the court said the grandparents themselves were old and had to support their five unmarried children, none of whom had come forward to take responsibility for bringing up the boy.
The court also said the aged couple had failed to demonstrate how they were ensuring the boy got a good education. It said there was a huge age difference between the aged couple and the child, due to which they could face difficulty in taking care of him.
The grandparents have been granted visitation rights to the child twice a month.
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