Tag Archives: Matrimonial Home

In-Laws Home – Cannot Be A ‘Shared Household’

In Shumita Didi Sandhu v. Sanjay Singh Sandhu, (2010) 174 DLT 79 (DB), the ld. Division Bench was considering a judgment of the Single Judge which had followed S.R. Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169 and held that the in-laws home cannot be a ‘shared household’ or the ‘matrimonial home’ and hence the daughter in law has no legal right to stay in the house belonging to her parents in law. The ld. Division then approved the view of the Single Judge and followed S.R. Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169. It concluded that the right of residence of the wife does not mean the right to reside in a particular property but would mean the right to reside in a commensurate property. The right of residence is not the same thing as a right to reside in a particular property which the appellant refers to as her ‘matrimonial home’. The Single Judge’s judgment was upheld and it was observed that the learned single Judge had amply protected the plaintiff by directing that she would not be evicted from the premises in question without following the due process of law. Vinay Varma v. Kanika Pasricha, (2020) 1 DMC 180.

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Right to Reside in Matrimonial Home – No Liability of Builder

A married woman is entitled to live, subsequent to her marriage, with rest of her family members on the husband’s side, in case it is a joint-property. If she resides in an accommodation as an independent family unit with her husband and children, the matrimonial home would be that residential unit. This right is embedded in her right as a wife. It is implicit under the provisions of Section 18 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 in situations that statute is applicable. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 has recognised the concept of “shared household” in terms of Section 2(s) of this statute. Alienating an immovable asset to defeat the right of a victim lady under the said Act can constitute domestic violence, coming, inter-alia, within the ambit of the expression “economic abuse” under Section 3(iv) of 2005 Act. A Magistrate having jurisdiction under Section 19 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is empowered to pass a residence order to protect a victim of domestic violence from being removed from her shared household. But for a husband to compel his wife to live in a separate household, which is not her matrimonial home, an order from appropriate legal forum would be necessary. There cannot be forcible dishousing of a wife from her matrimonial home.

When a builder has discharged his obligation by accommodating the original owners in the redeveloped portion as per a scheme, a lady married into that family would not be entitled to invoke the writ jurisdiction of the High Court to enforce her right to matrimonial home citing the provisions of the said statute, if her husband does not permit her to reside in the allocated portion. She does not have any independent claim on title or interest to that property having its genesis in that statute. Her claim of right to reside in her matrimonial home is sought to be projected by her as collateral to the statutory right of her husband to be rehoused or rehabilitated in the new building. But her right to reside in her matrimonial home stands detached from and is independent of the statutory scheme under the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Act. Neither MHADA, nor the builder can have any further legal obligation to rehouse her. She was an occupier under Section 2 (25) of the MHADA Act, 1976 but such occupier status was dependent upon her husband’s independent right as part owner of the property. Her right flowing from her matrimonial status cannot get diffused with her right of rehousing or rehabilitation under the statutory scheme. Her right to reside in her matrimonial home does not flow from the 1976 Act. Aishwarya Atul Pusalkar v. Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, Civil Appeal No. 7231 of 2012 (SC).

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Interim Maintenance Under DV Act and Maintenance U/s 125 CrPC – Are of the Same Nature

So far as interim maintenance awarded under Section 20 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is concerned, it was held that the maintenance allowance awarded under Section 125 of CrPC by the Family Court and interim maintenance under Section 20 of the Domestic Violence Act awarded by the Trial Court are of the same nature. It is not a separate amount, it is under or in addition to each other. It was further held that amount awarded by the trial court under any provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, until and unless not specifically mentioned in the order, it should be adjusted with the order for awarding maintenance under section 125 of CrPC. Arif Khan v. Ruby Khan, Cr. R. No. 4737 of 2019 (M.P.)

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Jurisdiction of State – Which has most intimate contact with the issues arising in the case

 The Hon’ble Apex Court in Surinder Kaur Sandhu v. Harbax Singh Sandhu, (1984) 3 SCC 698 was concerned with the custody of a child who was British citizen by birth whose parents had been settled in England after their marriage. The child was removed by the husband from the house and was brought to India. The wife obtained a judicial order from the UK court whereby the husband was directed to hand over the custody of the child to her. The said order was later confirmed by the court of England and thereafter the wife came to India and filed a writ petition in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana praying for custody and production of the child which came to be dismissed against which the wife appealed to the Apex Court. The Apex Court keeping in view the “welfare of the child”, “comity of courts” and “jurisdiction of the State which has most intimate contact with the issues arising in the case” held thus:

“We may add that the spouses had set up their matrimonial home in England where the wife was working as a clerk and the husband as a bus driver. The boy is a British citizen, having been born in England, and he holds a British passport. It cannot be controverted that, in these circumstances, the English Court had jurisdiction to decide the question of his custody. The modern theory of Conflict of Laws recognises and, in any event, prefers the jurisdiction of the State which has the most intimate contact with the issues arising in the case. Jurisdiction is not attracted by the operation or creation of fortuitous circumstances such as the circumstance as to where the child, whose custody is in issue, is brought or for the time being lodged. To allow the assumption of jurisdiction by another State in such circumstances will only result in encouraging forum-shopping. Ordinarily, jurisdiction must follow upon functional lines. That is to say, for example, that in matters relating to matrimony and custody, the law of that place must govern which has the closest concern with the well-being of the spouses and the welfare of the offspring of marriage. The spouses in this case had made England their home where this boy was born to them. The father cannot deprive the English Court of its jurisdiction to decide upon his custody by removing him to India, not in the normal movement of the matrimonial home but, by an act which was gravely detrimental to the peace of that home. The fact that the matrimonial home of the spouses was in England, establishes sufficient contacts or ties with that State in order to make it reasonable and just for the courts of that State to assume jurisdiction to enforce obligations which were incurred therein by the spouses. (See International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington  90 L Ed 95 : 326 US 310 (1945) , which was not a matrimonial case but which is regarded as the fountainhead of the subsequent developments of jurisdictional issues.) It is our duty and function to protect the wife against the burden of litigating in an inconvenient forum which she and her husband had left voluntarily in order to make their living in England, where they gave birth to this unfortunate boy.”  In  Elizabeth Dinshaw v. Arvand M. Dinshaw, (1987) 1 SCC 42, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that it is the duty of courts in all countries to see that a parent doing wrong by removing children out of the country does not gain any advantage by his or her wrongdoing and was guided by the factors such as the longer time spent by the child in the US in which the child was born and became US citizen and also the fact that the child has not taken roots in India and was still not accustomed and acclimatised to the conditions and environment obtaining in the place of his origin in the United States of America. The Court took note of the fact that the child’s presence in India is the result of an illegal act of abduction and the father who is guilty of the said act cannot claim any advantage by stating that he has already put the child in some school in Pune.  Lahari Sakhamuri v. Sobhan Kodali, (2019) 7 SCC 311.

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Desertion vis-à-vis Wilful Separation

The offence of desertion is a course of conduct which exists independently of its duration, but as a ground for divorce it must exist for a period of at least three years immediately pending the presentation of the petition where the offence appears as a cross-charge, of the answer. Desertion as a ground of divorce differs from the statutory grounds of adultery and cruelty in that the offence founding the cause of action of desertion is not complete, but is inchoate, until the suit is constituted. Desertion is a continuing offence.
The quality of permanence is one of the essential elements which differentiates desertion from willful separation. If a spouse abandons the other spouse in a state of temporary passion, for example anger or disgust, without intending permanently to cease cohabitation, it will not amount to desertion. For the offence of desertion, so far as the deserting spouse is concerned, two essential conditions must be there namely, (1) the factum of separation, and (2) the intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end (animus deserendi). Similarly two elements are essential so far as the deserted spouse is concerned: (1) the absence of consent, and (2) the absence of conduct giving reasonable cause to the spouse leaving the matrimonial home to form the necessary intention aforesaid. Mohan Singh Mawri v. Haripriya, 2017 (121) ALR 533.

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Offence of Desertion

Rayden on Divorce has summarized thus:
“Desertion is the separation of one spouse from the other, with an intention on the part of the deserting spouse of bringing cohabitation permanently to an end without reasonable cause and without the consent of the other spouse; but the physical act of departure by one spouse does not necessarily make that spouse the deserting party.”
In Halsbury’s Laws of England (3rd Edition), Vol. 12, it has been held as under:
“In its essence desertion means the intentional permanent forsaking and abandonment of one spouse by the other without that other’s consent and without reasonable cause. It is a total repudiation of the obligations of marriage. In view of the large variety of circumstances and of modes of life involved, the Court has discouraged attempts at defining desertion, there being no general principle applicable to all cases. Desertion is not the withdrawal from a place but from the state of things, for what the law seeks to enforce is the recognition and discharge of the common obligations of the married state; the state of things may usually be termed, for short, ‘the home’. There can be desertion without previous cohabitation by the parties, or without the marriage having been consummated. The person who actually withdraws from cohabitation is not necessarily the deserting party. The fact that a husband makes an allowance to a wife whom he has abandoned is no answer to a charge of desertion.
The offence of desertion is a course of conduct which exists independently of its duration, but as a ground for divorce it must exist for a period of at least three years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition where the offence appears as a cross charge, of the answer . Desertion as a ground of divorce differs from the statutory grounds of adultery and cruelty in that the offence founding the cause of action of desertion is not complete, but is inchoate, until the suit is constituted. Desertion is a continuing offence.”
Thus the quality of permanence is one of the essential elements which differentiates desertion from willful separation. If a spouse abandons the other spouse in a state of temporary passion, for example anger or disgust, without intending permanently to cease cohabitation, it will not amount to desertion. For the offence of desertion, so far as the deserting spouse is concerned, two essential conditions must be there namely, (1) the factum of separation, and (2) the intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end (animus deserendi). Similarly two elements are essential so far as the deserted spouse is concerned: (1) the absence of consent, and (2) absence of conduct giving reasonable cause to the spouse leaving the matrimonial home to form the necessary intention aforesaid. Anand Singh v. Smt. Kunti, 2017 (121) ALR 146.

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Grant of Maintenance – Principles of

It can never be forgotten that the inherent and fundamental principle behind Section 125 CrPC is for amelioration of the financial state of affairs as well as mental agony and anguish that a woman suffers when she is compelled to leave her matrimonial home. The statute commands that there have to be some acceptable arrangements so that she can sustain herself. The principle of sustenance gets more heightened when the children are with her. Be it clarified that sustenance does not mean and can never allow to mean a mere survival. A woman, who is constrained to leave the matrimonial home, should not be allowed to feel that she has fallen from grace and move hither and thither arranging for sustenance. As per law, she is entitled to lead a life in the similar manner as she would have lived in the house of her husband. And that is where the status and strata of the husband comes into play and that is where the legal obligation of the husband becomes a prominent one. As long as the wife is held entitled to grant of maintenance within the parameters of Section 125 CrPC, it has to be adequate so that she can live with dignity as she would have lived in her matrimonial home. She cannot be compelled to become a destitute or a beggar. There can be no shadow of doubt that an order under Section 125 CrPC can be passed if a person despite having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain the wife. Sometimes, a plea is advanced by the husband that he does not have the means to pay, or he does not have a job or his business is not doing well. These are only bald excuses and, in fact, they have no acceptability in law. If the husband is healthy, able bodied and is in a position to support himself, he is under the legal obligation to support his wife, for wife’s right to receive maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, unless disqualified, is an absolute right. Shamma Farooqui v. Shahid Khan, (2015) 5 SCC 705.

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