On 15th October while hearing a civil appeal addressing an important question pertaining to the interpretation and working of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 the Supreme Court over ruled the restrictive interpretation of the term “Shared Household” as adopted in the case of SR Batra v. Taruna Batra, (2007) 3 SCC 169. The Supreme Court further clarified that the ‘shared household’ under Section 2(s) of Domestic Violence Act means the shared household of the aggrieved person where she was living at the time when application was filed or in the recent past had been excluded from or she a place from where she is temporarily absent.

An understanding of shared household under Section 2(s) of Domestic Violence Act 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 wither 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 respondent, irrespective of whether the respondent or the aggrieved person has any right, title or interest in the shared household”.

In the present case viz. Satish Chander Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja the Bench observed that the use of expression “at any stage has lived” immediately after words “person aggrieved lives” has been used for an object which is different to what has been apprehended in SR Batra case. The Hon’ble Court in 2006 judgement observed that the expression “at any stage has lived” has been used to protect the women from denying the benefit of right to live in a shared household on the ground that on the date when application is filed, she was excluded from possession of the house or temporarily absent, whereas the use of the expression “at any stage has lived” is for the above purpose and not the object that wherever the aggrieved person has lived with the relatives of husband, all such houses shall become shared household, which is not the legislative intent.

In this context the Bench further clarified that the words “lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship” have to be given its normal and purposeful meaning. The Court further observed that the living of a 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. The intention of parties and the nature of living including the nature of household have to be looked into to find out as to whether the parties intended to treat the premises as shared household or not. According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, the DV Act was enacted to provide for a more effective protection of the rights of woman who are victims of violence of any kind occurring in the family. Therefore, the Act has to be interpreted in a manner to effectuate the very purpose and object of the act.

 

Judgement Link: Satish Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja

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