Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005: Section 2(s):-
The term used in section2(s) of the domestic violence Act "lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship" was interpreted by the court.
Section 2(s)- “`Shared household` means a household where the victim 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 victim 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”
Comprehension expressed in SR Batra Case:-
The court adopted the exclusive explanation of the term 'shared household' used in section 2(s) and stated that if the same is maintained to comprehend the houses possessed by the relatives of the husband, then it will be considered that anywhere the husband and wife stayed together in the past that property becomes the 'shared household'. The bench in the above matter also opined that the wife is only entitled to claim the right over the residence under shared household when the house belongs to the husband or taken on rent by the husband or the house owned by the joint family and husband is its member.
The court overruled that comprehension:-
In a recent judgment the 3 judge bench opined that the term "at any stage has lived" used right after the expression "aggrieved lives"; is used in a different sense for the object that has been apprehended in SR Batra. The court remarked that such comprehension used in 2006 Judgment pass in SR Batra case I not “true”. The court stated:
The phrase “at any stage lived” is used to protect the women from refusing the right to live in a shared household because on that date the application was filled, she was precluded from the possession of the property. The usage of the term “at any stage has lived” is for the above-mentioned purpose and not with the intention that the victim has lived with the relative of the husband and only then such houses will become the shared household; which was not the intention of the legislature during the enactment. The shared household is considered to be the household where the aggrieved person is residing in the present time. The court in the various order or reliefs, granted on the application filed by the victim, who clearly provides the protection to the women in matters related to the premises in which the victim used to reside or was in possession. It can further be clarified by defining the section19 of the Act,2005. In the cases the definition of the shared household mentioned in section 2(s) referred to all the houses where the victim has resided in a domestic relationship together with the relatives of the husband shall become the shared household, there would be a number of the household which were never expressed by the legislative scheme. The main objective of the Act is to provide instant relief to the victim with respect to the shared household where the victim lived or has lived. The term “at any stage has lived was used with the objective of not refusing the safety to victim simply because the victim is not residing on the date of the application or on the date the concerned magistrate passed the order under section 19”.
“The life of a woman in a house has to prefer a living which has some permanency”
In this regard, the constitutional bench further explained the words "lives or at any stage has lived in domestic relation" should be given a simple and purposeful meaning. The bench further stated that the women living in a house should have some permanency. Barely fleeting or randomly living in different places will not make a shared household. In order to find out whether the parties have the intention to treat the household as a shared household or not, the intention of the parties as well as the nature of the household has to be looked into. The act of 2005 was enacted to provide the effective protection of the rights of the women who are the victims of any kind of violence occurring in the family. The act has to be interpreted in order to effectively interpret it, in order to attain its very purpose and the object. Section2 (s) when read with sections 17 and 19 of the Domestic violence Act,2005, guarantees the right of residence under the term shared household irrespective of her having any legal interest in the house or not.
“Right of Residence Not Inherent Right; old-age Citizens Also Entitled To Live Peacefully”
The court further opined that the right to residence under section 19 of the Act, 2005 is not the inherent right, especially when the daughter-in-law was rough with her father-in-law and mother-in-law. This observation was made because the daughter-in-law (respondent) got the residence order but use to harass her mother-in-law as the father-in-law filed the suit in the case. The court stated-
“The old-age citizens are in the gloaming of their age and are also have the right to live peacefully and not afraid of marital discord between their son and the daughter-in-law. While granting relief in both the application under section12 of the Act, 2005, or in any civil proceeding, the court has to balance the rights of both the parties. "