//
you're reading...
legal issues

whether the petition under the provisions of the PWD Act, 2005, was maintainable by a woman, who was no longer residing with her husband or who was allegedly subjected to any act of domestic violence prior to the coming into force of the PWD Act on 26th October, 2006. =even if a wife, who had shared a household in the past, but was no longer doing so when the Act came into force, would still be entitled to the protection of the PWD Act, 2005.

REPORTABLE

Grandville : Cent Proverbes

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 

CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 

SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (Crl.) NO. 3916 OF 2010

 

 

V.D. BHANOT … PETITIONER

 

Vs.

 

SAVITA BHANOT … RESPONDENT

 

 

O R D E R

 

 

ALTAMAS KABIR, J.

 
1. The Special Leave Petition is directed against

 

the judgment and order dated 22nd March, 2010,

 

passed by the Delhi High Court in Cr.M.C.No.3959 of

 

2009 filed by the Respondent wife, Mrs. Savita

 

Bhanot, questioning the order passed by the learned

 

Additional Sessions Judge on 18th September, 2009,
2

 

 

dismissing the appeal filed by her against the

 

order of the Metropolitan Magistrate dated 11th May,

 

2009.

 

 

2. There is no dispute that marriage between the

 

parties was solemnized on 23rd August, 1980 and till

 

4th July, 2005, they lived together. Thereafter,

 

for whatever reason, there were misunderstandings

 

between the parties, as a result whereof, on 29th

 

November, 2006, the Respondent filed a petition

 

before the Magistrate under Section 12 of the

 

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,

 

2005, hereinafter referred to as the “PWD Act”,

 

seeking various reliefs. By his order dated 8th

 

December, 2006, the learned Magistrate granted

 

interim relief to the Respondent and directed the

 

Petitioner to pay her a sum of Rs.6,000/- per

 

month. By a subsequent order dated 17th February,

 

2007, the Magistrate passed a protection/residence

 

order under Sections 18 and 19 of the above Act,
3

 

 

protecting the right of the Respondent wife to

 

reside in her matrimonial home in Mathura. The

 

said order was challenged before the Delhi High

 

Court, but such challenge was rejected.

 

 

3. In the meantime, the Petitioner, who was a

 

member of the Armed Forces, retired from service on

 

6th December, 2007, and on 26th February, 2008, he

 

filed an application for the Respondent’s eviction

 

from the Government accommodation in Mathura

 

Cantonment. The learned Magistrate directed the

 

Petitioner herein to find an alternative

 

accommodation for the Respondent who had in the

 

meantime received an eviction notice requiring her

 

to vacate the official accommodation occupied by

 

her. By an order dated 11th May, 2009, the learned

 

Magistrate directed the Petitioner to let the

 

Respondent live on the 1st Floor of House No.D-279,

 

Nirman Vihar, New Delhi, which she claimed to be

 

her permanent matrimonial home. The learned
4

 

 

Magistrate directed that if this was not possible,

 

a reasonable accommodation in the vicinity of

 

Nirman Vihar was to be made available to the

 

Respondent wife. She further directed that if the

 

second option was also not possible, the Petitioner

 

would be required to pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- per

 

month to the Respondent as rental charges, so that

 

she could find a house of her choice.

 

 

4. Being dissatisfied with the order passed by the

 

learned Metropolitan Magistrate, the Respondent

 

preferred an appeal, which came to be dismissed on

 

18th September, 2009, by the learned Additional

 

Sessions Judge, who was of the view that since the

 

Respondent had left the matrimonial home on 4th

 

July, 2005, and the Act came into force on 26th

 

October, 2006, the claim of a woman living in

 

domestic relationship or living together prior to

 

26th October, 2006, was not maintainable. The

 

learned Additional Sessions Judge was of the view
5

 

 

that since the cause of action arose prior to

 

coming into force of the PWD Act, the Court could

 

not adjudicate upon the merits of the Respondent’s

 

case.

 

 

5. Before the Delhi High Court, the only question

 

which came up for determination was whether the

 

petition under the provisions of the PWD Act, 2005,

 

was maintainable by a woman, who was no longer

 

residing with her husband or who was allegedly

 

subjected to any act of domestic violence prior to

 

the coming into force of the PWD Act on 26th

 

October, 2006. After considering the constitutional

 

safeguards under Article 21 of the Constitution,

 

vis-`-vis, the provisions of Sections 31 and 33 of

 

the PWD Act, 2005, and after examining the

 

statement of objects and reasons for the enactment

 

of the PWD Act, 2005, the learned Judge held that

 

it was with the view of protecting the rights of

 

women under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the
6

 

 

Constitution that the Parliament enacted the PWD

 

Act, 2005, in order to provide for some effective

 

protection of rights guaranteed under the

 

Constitution to women, who are victims of any kind

 

of violence occurring within the family and matters

 

connected therewith and incidental thereto, and to

 

provide an efficient and expeditious civil remedy

 

to them. The learned Judge accordingly held that a

 

petition under the provisions of the PWD Act, 2005,

 

is maintainable even if the acts of domestic

 

violence had been committed prior to the coming

 

into force of the said Act, notwithstanding the

 

fact that in the past she had lived together with

 

her husband in a shared household, but was no more

 

living with him, at the time when the Act came into

 

force. The learned Judge, accordingly, set aside

 

the order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge

 

and directed him to consider the appeal filed by

 

the Respondent wife on merits.
7

 

 

6. As indicated hereinbefore, the Special Leave

 

Petition is directed against the said order dated

 

22nd March, 2010, passed by the Delhi High Court and

 

the findings contained therein.

 

 

7. During the pendency of the Special Leave

 

Petition, on 15th September, 2011, the Petitioner

 

appearing in-person submitted that the disputes

 

between him and the Respondent had been resolved

 

and the parties had decided to file an application

 

for withdrawal of the Special Leave Petition. The

 

matter was, thereafter, referred to the Supreme

 

Court Mediation Centre and during the mediation, a

 

mutual settlement signed by both the parties was

 

prepared so that the same could be filed in the

 

Court for appropriate orders to be passed

 

thereupon. However, despite the said settlement,

 

which was mutually arrived at by the parties, on

 

17th January, 2011, when the matter was listed for

 

orders to be passed on the settlement arrived at
8

 

 

between the parties, an application filed by the

 

Petitioner was brought to the notice of the Court

 

praying that the settlement arrived at between the

 

parties be annulled. Thereafter, the matter was

 

listed in-camera in Chambers and we had occasion to

 

interact with the parties in order to ascertain the

 

reason for change of heart. We found that while

 

the wife was wanting to rejoin her husband’s

 

company, the husband was reluctant to accept the

 

same. For reasons best known to the Petitioner, he

 

insisted that the mutual settlement be annulled as

 

he was not prepared to take back the Respondent to

 

live with him.

 

 

8. The attitude displayed by the Petitioner has

 

once again thrown open the decision of the High

 

Court for consideration. We agree with the view

 

expressed by the High Court that in looking into a

 

complaint under Section 12 of the PWD Act, 2005,

 

the conduct of the parties even prior to the coming
9

 

 

into force of the PWD Act, could be taken into

 

consideration while passing an order under Sections

 

18, 19 and 20 thereof. In our view, the Delhi High

 

Court has also rightly held that even if a wife,

 

who had shared a household in the past, but was no

 

longer doing so when the Act came into force, would

 

still be entitled to the protection of the PWD Act,

 

2005.

 

 

9. On facts it may be noticed that the couple has

 

no children. Incidentally, the Respondent wife is

 

at present residing with her old parents, after she

 

had to vacate the matrimonial home, which she had

 

shared with the Petitioner at Mathura, being his

 

official residence, while in service. After more

 

than 31 years of marriage, the Respondent wife

 

having no children, is faced with the prospect of

 

living alone at the advanced age of 63 years,

 

without any proper shelter or protection and

 

without any means of sustenance except for a sum of
10

 

 

Rs.6,000/- which the Petitioner was directed by the

 

Magistrate by order dated 8th December, 2006, to

 

give to the Respondent each month. By a subsequent

 

order dated 17th February, 2007, the Magistrate also

 

passed a protection-cum-residence order under

 

Sections 18 and 19 of the PWD Act, protecting the

 

rights of the Respondent wife to reside in her

 

matrimonial home in Mathura. Thereafter, on the

 

Petitioner’s retirement from service, the

 

Respondent was compelled to vacate the

 

accommodation in Mathura and a direction was given

 

by the Magistrate to the Petitioner to let the

 

Respondent live on the 1st Floor of House No.D-279,

 

Nirman Vihar, New Delhi, and if that was not

 

possible, to provide a sum of Rs.10,000/- per month

 

to the Respondent towards rental charges for

 

acquiring an accommodation of her choice.

 

 

10. In our view, the situation comes squarely

 

within the ambit of Section 3 of the PWD Act, 2005,
11

 

 

which defines “domestic violence” in wide terms,

 

and, accordingly, no interference is called for

 

with the impugned order of the High Court.

 

However, considering the fact that the couple is

 

childless and the Respondent has herself expressed

 

apprehension of her safety if she were to live

 

alone in a rented accommodation, we are of the view

 

that keeping in mind the object of the Act to

 

provide effective protection of the rights of women

 

guaranteed under the Constitution, who are victims

 

of violence of any kind occurring within the

 

family, the order of the High Court requires to be

 

modified. We, therefore, modify the order passed

 

by the High Court and direct that the Respondent be

 

provided with a right of residence where the

 

Petitioner is residing, by way of relief under

 

Section 19 of the PWD Act, and we also pass

 

protection orders under Section 18 thereof. As far

 

as any monetary relief is concerned, the same has

 

already been provided by the learned Magistrate and
12

 

 

in terms of the said order, the Respondent is

 

receiving a sum of Rs.6,000/- per month towards her

 

expenses.

 

 

11. Accordingly, in terms of Section 19 of the PWD

 

Act, 2005, we direct the Petitioner to provide a

 

suitable portion of his residence to the Respondent

 

for her residence, together with all necessary

 

amenities to make such residential premises

 

properly habitable for the Respondent, within 29th

 

February, 2012. The said portion of the premises

 

will be properly furnished according to the choice

 

of the Respondent to enable her to live in dignity

 

in the shared household. Consequently, the sum of

 

Rs.10,000/- directed to be paid to the Respondent

 

for obtaining alternative accommodation in the

 

event the Petitioner was reluctant to live in the

 

same house with the Respondent, shall stand reduced

 

from Rs.10,000/- to Rs.4,000/-, which will be paid

 

to the Respondent in addition to the sum of
13

 

 

Rs.6,000/- directed to be paid to her towards her

 

maintenance. In other words, in addition to

 

providing the residential accommodation to the

 

Respondent, the Petitioner shall also pay a total

 

sum of Rs.10,000/- per month to the Respondent

 

towards her maintenance and day-to-day expenses.

 

 

12. In the event, the aforesaid arrangement does

 

not work, the parties will be at liberty to apply

 

to this Court for further directions and orders.

 

The Special Leave Petition is disposed of

 

accordingly.

 

 

13. There shall, however, be no order as to costs.

 

 

……………………………………………J.

(ALTAMAS KABIR)

 

 

New Delhi ……………………………………………J.

Dated:07.02.2012 (J. CHELAMESWAR)

 

About these ads

About advocatemmmohan

ADVOCATE

Discussion

Comments are closed.

Blog Stats

  • 572,171 hits

ADVOCATE MMMOHAN

archieves

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 572 other followers

comments

There are no public comments available to display.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 572 other followers