December 21, 2020 In Uncategorized


The Three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India comprising of J. Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, J. Indu Malhotra and J. Indira Banerjee passed a Judgment dated 15.12.2020 in the case of Smt. S Vanitha v. The Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru Urban District & Ors. {Civil Appeal No.3822 of 2020 (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No. 29760 of 2019}) and held that provisions of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (#SeniorCitizens Act) cannot be invoked by in-laws to evict their #daughterinlaw as it would deprive her of rights in a shared household under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (#DomesticViolence Act).

In the present case, the Appellant got married with the Fourth Respondent on 30.05.2002. Thereafter, due to certain matrimonial disputes, the Fourth Respondent-estranged Husband filed for divorce in 2009. The Second Respondent filed a Suit for Permanent Injunction on 17.08.2020 and sought to restrain the Appellant from interfering with the possession of a residential house (Premises) owned by the Respondent-Mother-in-Law. This Suit is pending.

Thereafter, the marriage between the Appellant and the Fourth Respondent got dissolved on 05.12.2013 by the Trial Court and the Appellant filed a Suit for Maintenance on 19.03.2014. The proceedings for maintenance are pending.

But the Appellant filed an Appeal against the Decree for Dissolution of Marriage before the Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court on 14.01.2016, which set aside the Order of the Trial Court and remanded the case back to the Family Court. During the pendency of the Appeal, the Fourth Respondent entered into a marriage with another woman. The said proceedings for divorce are pending.

Subsequently, the Third and Fourth Respondent moved an Application before the Assistant Commissioner, Bengaluru in 2015 under the Senior Citizens Act and sought for maintenance from the Fourth respondent and for eviction of the Appellant from the Premises.

The Appellant objected to the Application on the ground that it was a malicious proceeding and that the sole intent behind the same was to evict her from the Premises. Further, the Appellant raised an objection to the jurisdiction of the Authorities to entertain the proceedings. The Appellant also contended that the Senior Citizens Act provides for the maintenance of a senior citizen or a parent and that there is no such provision for eviction, and the Authorities had no jurisdiction to order her eviction form the Premises. But both the Assistant Commissioner, Bengaluru and the Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru District allowed the said Application.

Aggrieved, the Appellant filed a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India before the High Court of Karnataka, whereby the Single Judge and thereafter, the Division Bench of the High Court passed Orders directing eviction of the Appellant.

Aggrieved by the said Orders, the Appellant filed a Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and contended that in view of the protection afforded by Section 17 of the Domestic Violence Act, she cannot be evicted from the residential house. She further challenged the jurisdiction of the Authorities who have ordered the Appellant’s eviction under the Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

Taking the arguments of the Parties into consideration, the Apex Court held that “The Tribunal under the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 may have the authority to order an eviction, if it is necessary and expedient to ensure the maintenance and protection of the senior citizen or parent.

The Supreme Court further noted that provisions of Section 3 of Senior Citizens Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law and as per the Rules of statutory interpretation, if two special Acts contain non obstante clauses, the latter law shall prevail. However, in the event of a conflict between the special Acts, then the dominant purpose of each enactment will have to be analysed and taken into consideration in order to ascertain as to which Act shall prevail.

The Apex Court held that “Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 cannot be deployed to over-ride and nullify other protections in law particularly that of a womans right to a shared household under Section 17 of the PWDV Act 2005. A shared household would have to be interpreted to include the residence where the appellant had been jointly residing with her husband. Merely because the ownership of the property has been subsequently transferred to her in-laws (Second and Third Respondents) or that her estranged spouse (Fourth respondent) is now residing separately, is no ground to deprive the appellant of the protection that was envisaged under the PWDV Act 2005.”

The Apex Court passed a direction to set aside the Impugned Order and Judgment dated 17.09.2019 of the Division Bench of High Court of Karnataka. Secondly, the Supreme Court stated that it is open for the Appellant to pursue her remedies under the provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 including interim protections.

Suchitra Upadhyay


The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services

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