The Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement, has allowed the ‘right to reside’ in a shared household, even if her husband has no ownership right over it. Under the Domestic Violence Act, which aims to ensure in-laws treat their daughters-in-law well, the SC has given its verdict that once a woman lodges a complaint under the Act, she will have the right to stay at her in-laws’ house.
While overruling SR Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169, answering some relevant question pertaining to the interpretation and working of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act) in relation to right of residence in the shared household, the 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ has held that
“The living of woman in a household has to refer to a living which has some permanency. Mere fleeting or casual living at different places shall not make a shared household.”
Section 2(s) of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005- “shared household” means a household where the person aggrieved lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent and includes such a household whether owned or tenanted either jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent, or owned or tenanted by either of them in respect of which either the aggrieved person or the respondent or both jointly or singly have any right, title, interest or equity and includes such a household which may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member, irrespective of whether the respondent or the aggrieved person has any right, title or interest in the shared household.
SR Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169, in this case the court has adversely impacted several rights to residence cases in which women were denied the right to reside in the home belonging exclusively to the in-laws even though they had resided in the homes after the marriage.