Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Man can’t drive estranged wife out of home, says HC

Mumbai: A pending divorce case would not absolve a man of his duty to provide a residence to his wife who had complained of domestic violence, the Bombay HC t has ruled.
Hearing an application filed by a Nagpur resident, Sheela Pawar, who was allegedly locked out of her house, Justice AP Bhangale dismissed her husband’s plea that he had a tenant staying in one of his rooms.
The high court has directed Nilesh to allow his estranged wife and their son to stay on the second floor of their two-storey home.
“We assume, for the sake of argument, that the alleged tenant occupies the second floor premises following an unregistered agreement; prima facie, this itself would not form any legal basis to claim the right as a tenant,” said Justice Bhangale. “Merely because the divorce proceedings are pending, the
wife, who was allegedly subjected to domestic violence, cannot be deprived of claiming residence in the shared household.”
Sheela married Nilesh in 2008 and they have a son. Sheela said while she stayed with her husband, she was subjected to harassment with him making demands for money to buy a fourwheeler. On April 5, 2010, the husband’s family locked her out of their house; Sheela lodged a complaint under the DV Act against her husband and mother-in-law and urged the court to pass an interim order to allow her and her son to return to her matrimonial house. The magistrate ordered Nilesh to provide her accommodation on the second floor of their building.
Challenging the order in a sessions court, Nilesh furnished an affidavit filed by a man claiming to be a tenant on the second floor of the Pawar home. The additional sessions judge quashed the magistrate’s order; Sheela moved the HC.
The high court held that the sessions court had erred by relying on an unregistered tenancy agreement. The court added that a magistrate’s interim order in a DV case should be interfered with only if such an order was “arbitrary, capricious, perverse or contrary to the settled principles of law”. The HC struck down the order and restored possession of the secondfloor residence to Sheela.

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