Shared Household

(i) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005), Section 26  Sub-section (3) - Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007)  -  Fact that specific proceedings under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  had not been instituted when the application under the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 was filed, should not lead to a situation where the enforcement of an order of eviction deprives her from pursuing her claim of entitlement under the law -  The inability of a woman to access judicial remedies may, be a consequence of destitution, ignorance or lack of resources -  Recourse to the summary procedure contemplated by the Senior Citizen Act 2007 was not available for the purpose of facilitating strategies that are designed to defeat the claim of the appellant in respect of a shared household .  #2020 SCeJ 2140 [Para 23]

 

(ii) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005), Section 2(s) - “shared household” – 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 or that her estranged spouse is now residing separately, is no ground to deprive the appellant-wife of the protection that was envisaged under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005). #2020 SCeJ 2140  [Para 23]

 

(iii) Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007),  Section 3 - Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005),  - Provisions of Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act 2007 giving it overriding force and effect, would not by themselves be conclusive of an intent to deprive a woman who claims a right in a shared household, as under the PWDV Act, 2005. #2020 SCeJ 2140  [Para 20]

Held,

Allowing the Senior Citizens Act 2007 to have an overriding force and effect in all situations, irrespective of competing entitlements of a woman to a right in a shared household within the meaning of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, , would defeat the object and purpose which the Parliament sought to achieve in enacting the latter legislation. The law protecting the interest of senior citizens is intended to ensure that they are not left destitute, or at the mercy of their children or relatives. Equally, the purpose of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  cannot be ignored by a sleight of statutory interpretation. Both sets of legislations have to be harmoniously construed. Hence the right of a woman to secure a residence order in respect of a shared household cannot be defeated by the simple expedient of securing an order of eviction by adopting the summary procedure under the Senior Citizens Act 2007. [Para 21]

Over-riding effect for remedies sought by the applicants under the Senior Citizens Act 2007 under Section 3, cannot be interpreted to preclude all other competing remedies and protections that are sought to be conferred by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. [Para 22]

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  is also in the nature of a special legislation, that is enacted with the purpose of correcting gender discrimination that pans out in the form of social and economic inequities in a largely patriarchal society. In deference to the dominant purpose of both the legislations, it would be appropriate for a Tribunal under the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to grant such remedies of maintenance, as envisaged under S.2(b) of the Senior Citizens Act 2007 that do not result in obviating competing remedies under other special statutes, such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. [Para 22]

In the event that a composite dispute is alleged, such as in the present case where the suit premises are a site of contestation between two groups protected by the law, it would be appropriate for the Tribunal constituted under the Senior Citizens Act 2007 to appropriately mould reliefs, after noticing the competing claims of the parties claiming under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005),  and Senior Citizens Act 2007. Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 cannot be deployed to over-ride and nullify other protections in law, particularly that of a woman’s right to a ‘shared household’ under Section 17 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005). #2020 SCeJ 2140  [Para 22]

 

(iv) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005),  Section 36, and Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007), Section 3 -   Principles of statutory interpretation dictate that in the event of two special acts containing non obstante clauses, the later law shall typically prevail - The Senior Citizen’s Act 2007 contains a non obstante clause – Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, , Section 36 stipulates that the provisions of the Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, the provisions of any other law for the time being in force - This is intended to ensure that the remedies provided under the enactment are in addition to other remedies and do not displace them -   The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 is undoubtedly a later Act and Section 3 stipulates that its provisions will have effect, notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other enactment - However, in the event of a conflict between special acts, the dominant purpose of both statutes would have to be analyzed to ascertain which one should prevail over the other -  The primary effort of the interpreter must be to harmonize, not excise - However, the provisions of Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act 2007 giving it overriding force and effect, would not by themselves be conclusive of an intent to deprive a woman who claims a right in a shared household, as under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005)  - Principles of statutory interpretation - Section 36 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, albeit not in the nature of a non-obstante clause, has to be construed harmoniously with the non obstante clause in Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act 2007 that operates in a separate field.  Bank of India vs. Ketan Parekh, (2008) 8 SCC 148, Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure Ltd. vs. Union of India, (2019) 8 SCC 416, relied. #2020 SCeJ 2140 [Para 20]

 

(v) Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007),  Section 4 - Recognises a corresponding obligation on the part of the children or relative to maintain a senior citizen, extending to such needs as would enable them to lead a normal life - In the case of a relative, the obligation is if they are in possession of the property of the senior citizen or would inherit property from them -  In the case of the children of a senior citizen, the obligation to maintain a parent is not conditional on being in possession of property of the senior citizen or upon a right of future inheritance. #2020 SCeJ 2140 [Para 14]

 

(vi) Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007),  Section 23, Sub-Section (2) -  May cover a situation where the transfer of the estate (in which a senior citizen has a right to maintenance) is by a third party, in which event, the provision provides the right to enforce the claim of maintenance against such transferee (other than those transferees for consideration or without notice of the pre-existing right) -  The language of sub-section (2) is broad enough to also cover a situation where the transfer is by the senior citizen, in which event the transferee with notice of the right; or a gratuitous transferee, can be made subject to the enforcement of the right against the transferred estate. #2020 SCeJ 2140 [Para 16]

 

(vii) Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007), Section 23, Sub-Section 1, 2 -    Distinction between sub-Section (1) and sub-Section (2) of Section 23  - The deeming consequence which is provided for in sub-Section (1) is not incorporated in sub-Section (2)  - Under sub-Section (1), where a transfer has been made by a senior citizen subject to the condition that the transferee will be provided for basic amenities or physical needs of the transferor and if there is a failure of the transferee to fulfil the condition, two consequences follow: (i) the transfer of property shall be deemed to have been made by fraud or coercion or under undue influence; and (ii) the transfer shall, at the option of the transferor, be declared to be void by the Tribunal - Sub-Section (2), in contradistinction, stipulates that the right to receive maintenance can be enforced against a gratuitous transferee or a transferee with notice of the pre-existing right of a citizen to receive maintenance out of an estate notwithstanding who is the transferee of the estate. #2020 SCeJ 2140  [Para 16]

 

(viii) Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007), Section 23, 2(f) - Expression ‘transfer’ - In keeping with the salutary public purpose underlying the enactment of the legislation, the expression ‘transfer’ would include not only the absolute transfer of property but also transfer of a right or interest in the property -  This would also be in consonance with the provisions of Section 2(f) which defines the expression property to include “rights or interests in such property” -  The expression ‘transfer’ not having been defined specifically by the legislation, it must receive an interpretation which would advance the beneficent object and purpose of its provisions - Sub-section (2) of section 23 speaks of the enforcement of the “right to receive maintenance” which is more comprehensive in its nature, than merely enforcing an order for maintenance passed under Section 9 of the Act. #2020 SCeJ 2140 [Para 16]

 

(ix) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005), Section 2(s) - “shared household” - “means and includes”  - The definition of the expression “shared household” in Section 2(s) uses the familiar legislative formula of a “means and includes” definition - Where the definition of an expression in an enactment adopts a ‘means and includes’ stipulation, it is intended to be exhaustive - The ‘means’ part of the definition indicates what would normally fall within the ambit of the expression, while the ‘includes’ element gives it an extended meaning - Together they indicate that the legislature has provided for an exhaustive enumeration of what falls within the ambit of the definition – Words and Phrases - “means and includes” . #2020 SCeJ 2140 [Para 18]

Held,

Justice G P Singh in his seminal treatise on the Principles of Statutory Interpretation[1] observes:

“The Legislature has the power to define a word even artificially. So the definition of a word in the definitions section may either be restrictive of its ordinary meaning or it may be extensive of the same. When a word is defined to ‘mean’ such and such, the definition is prima facie restrictive and exhaustive.”

On the other hand, “includes” is titled so as to comprehend an extensive meaning:

“Whereas, where the word defined is declared to ‘include’ such and such, the definition is prime facie extensive. When by an amending Act, the word ‘includes’ was substituted for the word ‘means’ in a definitions section, it was held that the intention was to make it more extensive…..”

The use of the expression ‘means’ is intended to make it exhaustive. On the other hand, the use of the expression ‘includes’ is intended to make it more extensive. The legislature by using an expression ‘includes’ evinces, notwithstanding the meaning of the phrase, an intention:

“to enlarge the meaning of the words or phrases occurring in the body of the statute”.

“Includes” is utilized so as to comprehend:

“not only such things as they signify according to their nature and import but also those things which the interpretation clause declares that they shall include”

However, when a statutory definition incorporates the ‘means and includes’ approach, the intent is to make the definition exhaustive.

“Further, a definition may be in the form of ‘means and includes’, where again the definition is exhaustive.”

[Para 18]

 

(x) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005),  Section 2(s) - “shared household” – “means and includes”  - Though neither the respondent, nor the aggrieved person in such case may have a right, title or interest in the shared household it would irrespective fall within the ambit of the definition  - The definition of ‘shared household’ in Section 2(s) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  is exhaustive -  The definition is in two parts: in the means part of the definition the expression ‘shared household’ means (i) A household where the person aggrieved lives in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent or; (ii) At any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent. - This is followed by an inclusive element, so as to cover such a household (i) whether owned or tenanted either jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent or (ii) owned or tenanted by either of them in respect of which either the aggrieved person or the respondent or both jointly or singly have any right, title or equity -  This has also been given an inclusive or extended meaning, which extends to a household which may belong to the joint family of which a respondent is a member, irrespective of whether the respondent or the aggrieved person have any right, title or interest in the shared household -  The last part of the inclusive definition is intended to extend the meaning of a shared household to a situation where the household in fact belongs to a joint family, of which the respondent is a member -  The legislature has made it clear that though neither the respondent, nor the aggrieved person in such case may have a right, title or interest in the shared household it would irrespective fall within the ambit of the definition. #2020 SCeJ 2140 [Para 19]

 

(xi) Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005), Section 26  Sub-section (3) - Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (56 of 2007) - In the event that the “aggrieved woman” obtains a relief from a Tribunal constituted under the Senior Citizens Act 2007, she shall duty-bound to inform the Magistrate under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, , as per Sub-section (3) of Section 26 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  - This course of action would ensure that the common intent of the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005  of ensuring speedy relief to its protected groups who are both vulnerable members of the society, is effectively realized -  Rights in law can translate to rights in life, only if there is an equitable ease in obtaining their realization. #2020 SCeJ 2140  [Para 22]

 

 

 

Order:

Claim of the appellant that the premises constitute a shared household within the meaning of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  would have to be determined by the appropriate forum.  The claim cannot simply be obviated by evicting the appellant in exercise of the summary powers entrusted by the Senior Citizens Act 2007. The Second and Third Respondents (parents in law) are at liberty to make a subsequent application under Section 10 of the Senior Citizens Act 2007 for alteration of the maintenance allowance, before the appropriate forum. Order of eviction against the appellant stand set aside. Leave it open to the appellant to pursue her remedies under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  and it would be open to the appellant to seek the help of the District Legal Services Authorities and if the appellant does so, all necessary aid and assistance shall be furnished to her in pursuing her legal remedies and rights; restoration of the electricity connection is allowed by directing the husband to take all necessary steps for restoration of the electricity connection to the premises within a period of two weeks from the receipt of a certified copy of this judgment and shall also continue to pay the electricity dues in future; and in order to enable the appellant to pursue her remedies under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, , there shall be an order and direction restraining the respondents from forcibly dispossessing the appellant, disposing of the premises or from creating any right, title and interest in favor of any third party in any manner whatsoever for a period of one year, to enable the appellant to pursue her remedies in accordance with law. The appellant is at liberty to move the Court to espouse her remedies under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  for appropriate orders, including interim protections. [Para 24]

 



 

 

 

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