With the changing times, many trends have also changed. The concept of family has also changed dramatically. In today’s family, some changes are seen in the electrical structure and with it, there has been a change in the type of family, wedding house, property. These changes are now being studied by family law. But Indian women receive fewer rights than men with property. There are different religions in India and different property rights practices depending on marital status, financial status, etc. There is no explicit and specific mention of the matrimonial home in any act.
There are statutes and laws like the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Hindu Heritage Act, 1956; The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, etc. are directly or indirectly related to the concept of marriage home or shared housing. This concept attracts considerable debate due to the complexity of the case situation.
In layman language, a shared household is simply a household where an estranged wife/ daughter-in-law has lived at any point in the relationship. It includes a family-owned or employed by one of the opposing spouses. A shared family can belong to a joint family of which the husband is a member, regardless of whether the divorced spouse has a right, title, or interest in the said household. There should not be a partner family at any stage of the relationship where the divorced wife lives or in the household. It refers to the places where she lived or lived somewhat permanently. It does not become a shared home in places that are just momentary or randomly isolated. The intention and nature of the parties’ stay, including the nature of the home, must be taken into account.
Ownership of the house may be in the name of the mother-in-law or in-laws but will not infringe on the bride’s right to remain in the house. The description of the shared house emphasizes the establishment of domestic relations and the investigation into the ownership of the house which was deemed unnecessary by the esteemed Supreme Court.
A matrimonial home is defined in section 18 (1) of the Family Law Act as “All property which a person has an interest in and where or, if the spouses are separated, at the time of the divorce that person and his or her spouse reside as their family”. It is important to know that only married people can have a home. Unmarried parties, including parties with the same legal relationship, are not eligible under this section of the Family Law Act.
Spouses can have more than one home. Couples who regularly live in a traditional home, but who have a cottage where they often spend time, can be found with two wedding homes. The important thing is that the couple should always be in the second place to be considered a marriage home. For example, property that is jointly owned by a spouse but leased to a third party at all times may not be eligible to be a marital home. There are various judgments made under a matrimonial home.
On Oct 15th, the Supreme Court gave a verdict that gave relief to married women. Talking about the rights of daughter-in-law in a matrimonial dispute, they have the right to stay in their in-law’s place. The wife will have the right to claim the “shared household” of the joint family. An Eviction suit cannot be filed against the daughter-in-law. The wife has a right to reside in the joint family property. According to the verdict, she has the right to the residence but she cannot claim a share in the property. Under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005; she can ask for residential rights.
Previously, at the time of divorce, women were eligible to only stay in their husband’s property. Before this judgment, there could be no claim on the shared property. Shared property means the husband’s financial contribution to the property. Earlier, women were eligible to claim only rented accommodation or husband’s owned house. the wife was not entitled to claim any right on the father-in-law’s property. Share in the property will be according to the alimony or on a mutual basis. This judgment is not about the property right but is only about the right to the residence. It provides the right to daughter-in-law to stay in the matrimonial home. The Right to the residence is till the wife does not get permanent residence or any kind of accommodation to stay after the dispute with the husband. A wife cannot be evicted from the house till she wants to stay.
This decision will impact all the places where the husband and wife were staying or had stayed together. If husband and wife were staying in a joint family, then the judgment will be applicable or if both the spouses are staying alone in rented accommodation, then also this judgment is applicable. But if the husband stops paying rent, or the husband has deserted his wife, the wife can stay on the father-in-law’s property. Eventually, the wife can submit a plea for the Right to the residence. They have a residential right.
RIGHTS OF DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
The vital point here is daughter-in-law doesn’t have any ownership right in the property of her in-laws. Indirectly, they can have an ownership right via their husband but they don’t have any direct right. They have the right to the residence. Being a member of a matrimonial home, she can not be evicted from the property. But if in some cases daughter-in-law is evicted, she can ask for compensation from her in-laws. They have the Right to the residence, right to compensation, right to maintenance. Under Indian law, no provision can evict a daughter-in-law from a matrimonial home. One can call a protection officer for help. A domestic violence complaint can be filed against in-laws and pray for interim relief. This whole procedure is governed by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. It was a very revolutionary act.
THE SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT
The Supreme Court in one of its judgments stated that the granting of custody of a married woman under the domestic violence law by a criminal court is important and should not be taken into account in civil proceedings requiring her to be removed from the marriage home. The Bombay High Court in another case has ruled that a woman has the right to live in her own home or shared home whether it is hers or her husband’s. The decision relied on the provision of the Protection from Women in the Domestic Violence Act. SR Batra and Anr High Court. v. Smt. Taruna Batra’s case held that the shared home could not include the house of the husband’s parents where the victim lived. It dealt with the issue of scope and the meaning of the discourse assigned to the family as to whether the property in which the husband and wife lived together fell within the definition of a shared family. The Delhi High Court also emphasized that the right to stay is available to a woman against her husband and not against her in-laws.
The status of women in India has changed after the assurance of equal rights and rights for women. Protecting and promoting women’s rights is a tool for social development. Laws should be equal for all and there is no need to introduce new laws rather we should focus on improving the existing laws.
Author’s Name: Muskan Baid (Ideal Institute of Management and Technology, GGSIPU)