A woman cannot have the right to stay at the property of her in-laws if she mistreats them, the Delhi high court said while dismissing the plea of a woman who allegedly subjected her in-laws to cruelty and torture.
The Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Rules, 2016, entitled a senior citizen to seek eviction of his son, daughter or his legal heirs on account of ill-treatment but excluded the daughter-in-law.
Justice Vibhu Bhakru said that excluding the daughter-in-law from the said rules would “debilitate” provisions of the rules and render it incapable to serve the object of safeguarding the rights of senior citizens.
“It is difficult to accept that although a senior citizen is entitled to evict his/her son who is maltreating him, he/she has no option but to suffer the ill-treatment at the hands of his/her daughter-in-law,” the court said in its 11-page judgment.
The court dismissed the plea of a woman, Darshna, who had challenged the order of a district magistrate who had directed her to vacate the first-floor of the house of her in-laws she had occupied.
“It is relevant to note that Darshna has no right, title and interest in the premises and, therefore, cannot insist on residing with Dhani Ram and his wife, especially when the relationship between the said parties had deteriorated to the extent as indicated above,” the court said.
According to the case, disputes arose between Darshna and her husband. She also had uncordial relations with her 75-year-old father-in-law Dhani Ram and his wife. While she had instituted domestic violence proceedings against the in-laws, her husband had filed a divorce case against her.
Darshna’s husband was not staying at his parents’ place for the past several months. Meanwhile, Dhani Ram filed a plea before the district magistrate, seeking eviction of his son and daughter-in-law from the premises.
Appearing for Darshna, her counsel contended that the Delhi Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Rules, 2016, only enabled a senior citizen to evict his son and daughter or legal heirs from his self-acquired property on account of non-maintenance and ill-treatment.
He said the property in question was not Dhani Ram’s self-acquired property and his application for eviction was not maintainable. However, the court said that such a contention is “unmerited”.
“The contention that the property in question is ancestral or Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) property prima facie does not appear to be sustainable,” the court said.
The in-laws had contended that Darshna misbehaved with them and had subjected them to physical violence. They claimed they were compelled to lock themselves in a room.
They furnished medical records of him and his wife to substantiate his claim that they had been physically assaulted. Dhani Ram had produced CCTV recordings, which showed Darshna assaulting him and his wife.
The district magistrate had referred the matter to the sub-divisional magistrate of Karol Bagh for verification. The report indicated Darshna used to fight with her in-laws.
The court dismissed the daughter-in-law’s plea while stating she would be entitled to the reasonable maintenance.
Advocate Geeta Luthra said this would not clash with the Domestic Violence Act because the son is a licensee of the property and his wife is staying as the extension of his family.
Hence, if the parents terminate the licence with the son, then the daughter-in-law automatically loses the right to their property. Senior advocate Vikash Pahwa said there would be no clash with the DV Act because the spirits of both the acts are different.
“There will no clash. But there should be clarity. Both the rules and Act in question are different and will be tried by different courts and by different judges,” Pahwa said.
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