Yes, there is a provision under Domestic Violence Act according to which the daughter in law is legally entitled to reside in her matrimonial house till cases are finalized.
DV Shared household under DV Act clarified in 2006 SC judgment
Domestic Violence or DV Act (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act), 2005 was passed by parliament in Aug 2005 and came into force on 26 Oct 2006. The act comes into force when it is notified in a gazette etc, not just when it is passed by parliament.
This old SC judgment of S R Batra vs Taruna Batra case below about what constitutes rights of a wife to live in husband/in-laws house is from Dec 2006 which is just 2 months after DV act came into force. But this judgment is very important since even today there is lot of misunderstanding about rights of a woman on her husband/in-laws house/property. This is especially true of North India or Delhi/NCR region where asking for property/house/plot as a ‘settlement’ in marital dispute is a time-tested strategy being followed. What’s even more surprising is when I get calls about clueless husbands who are unaware of the various laws about Benami transaction, transfer of property act etc and have basically given up on playing the game before it even started. It’s about time that men need to wake up and read a bit about law, or else be willing to lose your (or parents’) hard-earned property in ‘compromise’ or ‘settlement’ because you chose not to read about the law yourselves and instead kept flitting from one advocate to another to give your a ‘solution’ to your matrimonial problem! There are some things a man should fix himself, and his relationship problems are one of them. (Inspired from one of those Tremors movie series dialogues – the actual dialog was that a man should learn to shoot himself and not depend on a hired gun).
Important part of the judgment follows:
Learned counsel for the respondent Smt. Taruna Batgra stated that the definition of shared household includes a household where the person aggrieved lives or at any stage had lived in a domestic relationship. He contended that since admittedly the respondent had lived in the property in question in the past, hence the said property is her shared household.
We cannot agree with this submission.
If the aforesaid submission is accepted, then it will mean that wherever the husband and wife lived together in the past that property becomes a shared household. It is quite possible that the husband and wife may have lived together in dozens of places e.g. with the husband’s father, husband’s paternal grand parents, his maternal parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces etc. If the interpretation canvassed by the learned counsel for the respondent is accepted, all these houses of the husband’s relatives will be shared households and the wife can well insist in living in the all these houses of her husband’s relatives merely because she had stayed with her husband for some time in those houses in the past. Such a view would lead to chaos and would be absurd.
Learned counsel for the respondent Smt Taruna Batra has relied upon Section 19(1)(f) of the Act and claimed that she should be given an alternative accommodation. In our opinion, the claim for alternative accommodation can only be made against the husband and not against the husband’s in-laws or other relatives.
As regards Section 17(1) of the Act, in our opinion the wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household, and a `shared household’ would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member. The property in question in the present case neither belongs to Amit Batra nor was it taken on rent by him nor is it a joint family property of which the husband Amit Batra is a member. It is the exclusive property of appellant No. 2, mother of Amit Batra. Hence it cannot be called a `shared household’.
No doubt, the definition of `shared household’ in Section 2(s) of the Act is not very happily worded, and appears to be the result of clumsy drafting, but we have to give it an interpretation which is sensible and which does not lead to chaos in society.
Full judgment text below
S.R. Batra And Anr vs Smt. Taruna Batra on 15 December, 2006
Author: M Katju
Bench: S.B. Sinha, Markandey Katju
Appeal (civil) 5837 of 2006