Satish Chander Ahuja V. Sneha Ahuja AIR 2020, SC 2483.

Case No.: CIVIL APPEAL NO.2483 of 2020 (Arising out of SLP(C)No.1048 of 2020)

Date of Judgement: 15 October 2020

Petitioner: SATISH CHANDER AHUJA

Respondent: SNEHA AHUJA

Bench: Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy, M.R. Shah

FACTS

Important questions pertaining to Domestic violence were raised in the case Satish Chander Ahuja V. Sneha Ahuja AIR 2020, SC 2483[1]. To Question the judgement dated 18 December 2019, given by the Delhi High Court an appeal was lodged by the Plaintiff Mr. Satish Chander Ahuja. In the said Judgement the decree which was granted in favour of the plaintiff was set aside under the Civil Procedure Code and the matter was sent back to the Trial Court for a fresh ruling in line with the regulations given by the High Court. The appellant was the owner of the property situated in New Delhi. His son Mr. Raveen Ahuja was married to the Respondent Mrs. Sneha Ahuja in the year 1995. After their marriage, the couple started to reside on the First Floor of the House which Was owned by Mr, Satish Ahuja in the year 1983. After some conflicts between the couple Mr, Raveen moved out of the First floor and started to reside in the Guest Room on the Ground Floor in July 2014. A Divorce Petition was then filed by Mr. Raveen against Sneha on the Grounds of Cruelty. An application was filed by Sneha against her Husband and her mother-in-law under Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act claiming various Reliefs under the said act and also spoke out against emotional and mental abuse by the defendants. An Interim Order was Passed by the Trial Court in order to hold back the defendants from secluding her from the Common Household.

ISSUES RAISED

The following Issues were raised before the Supreme Court –

1] Interpretation of the word Shared Household which is stated under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Whether as a victim a Joint Family is included or the family in which the husband serves?

2] Whether the conclusion is given by the High Court to the appellant that the suit filed against him could not be adjourned under Order 12, Rule 6 of the CPC?

3] If under Section 2(q) of the DVA 2005, the Plaintiff who gave rise to the appeal can be addressed as the Respondent or not.

4] Whether the Husband against the Defendant is a necessary party or not?

5] Repercussions of the orders passed under S.19 of the DVA, 2005[2].

6] Competency of the Jurisdiction under which the Interim or Final proceedings were Passed.

CONTENTION

Arguments Raised by the Petitioner –

1] In-laws are not under an onus to maintain the Husband for a lifetime. It was argued by the Petitioner that during the marriage with the son the Defendant’s condition of Possession can be termed Lawful but is not allowed to profess the Right to claim Property.

2] It was Argued by the Petitioner that the house was owned by him under single ownership and was not a Shared Household and therefore no other Person can Claim a right in his property.

3] The defendant can Claim a Right to Residence only on the Property of the Joint Family and not on the Property of the husband’s Father as both the Son and his wife are Free License holders.

4] To stop the Interference from the side of the Defendant Party in the Property owned by the Petitioner, a Decree for compulsory Injunction was filed by the Petitioner to remove her from the First floor of the Property.

5] It was pleaded that this comprehensive definition of Shared Household will lead to Disorder and disturbance in Sustaining Law and order in the Society.

6] It was further contended that to maintain equal rights for both parties in the Society, the Interpretation of the words should be of Systematic Construction.

Arguments Raised by the Respondent –

1] Section 2(f) of the DVA,2005 was referred by the respondent to claim that she was in such kind of Domestic relationship with the Husband and that as mentioned under Section 2(q) is a Respondent and a charge of Domestic Violence against him was made in the Petition.

2] Referring to Section 12 of the Domestic Violence Act a Complaint was lodged.

3] To procure documents an Application under Civil Procedure Code (Rules 12 and 14) was filed.

4] It was further claimed by the Respondent that the property is a Shared House as stated under Section 2(s) of the DVA 2005.

RATIONALE

Order XI, Rule 14 of the Civil Procedure Code[3]

This order deals with the Production of Documents. It is stated under this rule that any party to the Proceedings with the Rights or Power to hold any document can be directed to produce documents before the court before the conclusion of the Trial.

Order XII, Rule 6 of the Civil Procedure Code –

This rule is used to circumvent waiting for the part of the Decree when the defendant has a clear, indisputable, and complete acknowledgement of the defendant’s Claim.

Domestic Violence Act, 2005[4]

Section 2(f) –

It is stated under this Section that, a ‘Domestic Relationship’ is between two people who at any time in life lived together in a shared Household by consensus, relationship, marriage, adoption, or are living together in a Joint Family.

Section 2(s) –

The term Shared Household is defined in this Section. It means a Family where an Anguished person resides or is in a Domestic Relationship with the Defendant. It fundamentally means any household which is under co-ownership of both or owned by any one of the parties, it also includes the house belonging to the Joint Family of which the Parties are the members.

Section 2 (q) –

Under this section, the term Respondent is defined. This term includes the person who is in a Domestic relationship with the anguished Person and against whom aid is sought under the Domestic Violence Act 2005. Relief can also be sought against any relative of the Husband or any male partner relating to any Difficulties in the Marriage.

Section 12(a) –

Under this Section, a Permit is given to bring a person to the Hospital for Evaluation against Will.

Section 12(b) –

Under this Section, a Person Can be admitted to a Psychiatric Institution against the person’s Will for a period of Three Business days.

Section 17 –

The right to Live in a Shared Household is embodied under this Section. Even if a woman has no right or beneficial interest in the property she is entitled to live in a Shared Household. The anguished person cannot be driven out of the Household even with adhering to any Law.

Section 19 –  

Remedy for Residence Order is given under this Section. This order can be passed if the Magistrate is satisfied that there is a case of Domestic Violence.

Judgment –

By overruling the S.R. Batra Vs. Taruna Batra[5] In 2006 this judgment took an accelerating step towards Shielding and Reinforcing Women’s rights in India. The Interpretation of the word Shared Family should be in such a way that it is in accordance with the prevalent inference of Law. Hence this term means any household in which the aggrieved person is residing for a particular period of Time, notwithstanding the regard and original title on the said Property to the holder and without giving any effect to such type of Construction. Relief was granted by the Supreme Court to the Respondent by adopting the Literal rule of Interpretation while deciding what a Shared Family is or what terms can be undertaken while considering the fundamental Rules of The Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

It was held that Section 2(s) is a Comprehensive definition and read with Sections 17 and 19 of The Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The Right of Residence was bestowed upon the Anguished Person without even Possessing any Interest or Title even if the Conjugal house is in the name of the Husband or his Relatives the woman is allowed to make a valid claim under The Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

DEFECTS OF LAW

In this case, women benefited greatly but there was an adverse effect on the Elderly Parents specifically those who are caught up in the Squabble between the Husband and Wife. Hence, the rising problem of Fraudulent use of Such Provisions by some Women to harass the opposition should have been countered. A balanced approach is necessary to grant equal relief to both the Parties.

INFERENCE

India has been following the Patriarchal Society system since Long ago. Women have been forced to face damaging effects despite being at Par with the men in every Field. Many amendments are made to improve their status in the society. This decision given by the Supreme Court provided a great amount of relief to the women who were victims of Domestic Violence by their In-Laws and also became a way through which one can refute the Residence protection under the veil that the place in which they used to Reside was owned by the Father or Mother of the Husband within the bounds of Balance while arriving on a Decision.

Mrunmayee J. Gavande

Government Law College, Mumbai.


[1] Satish Chander Ahuja V. Sneha Ahuja, Supreme Court Of India, October 15, 2020, Civ App. No. 2483 of 2020, All India Reporter (India). https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/689/689_2020_37_1501_24378_Judgement_15-Oct-2020.pdf

[2] THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005, No. Section. 19 (n.d.) (India). https://indiankanoon.org/doc/692488/

[3] THE CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, 1908 (n.d.) (India). https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/2191/1/A1908-05.pdf

[4] THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005 (2005) (India). https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/15436/1/protection_of_women_from_domestic_violence_act,_2005.pdf

[5] S.R. Batra vs Smt. Taruna Batra, Supreme Court of India, December 15, 2006, Appeal (civil) 5837 of 2006 (India). https://indiankanoon.org/doc/594165/