Women can’t occupy in-laws self-acquired property

NEW DELHI: A daughter-in-law has no right to continue to occupy the self-acquired property of her parents-in-law against their wishes, the Delhi high court has held in a significant order.

Justice A K Pathak in a recent verdict, made it clear that a self-acquired property doesn’t fall under the definition of a “shared household” enunciated in the Domestic Violence Act and a daughter in law can’t enforce her right in such a property.

In fact, HC went a step further, holding that even an adult son or daughter has no legal right to occupy the self-acquired property of the parents against their consent.

“Daughter-in-law cannot assert her rights, if any, in the property of her parents-in-law wherein her husband has no right, title or interest. She cannot continue to live in such a house of her parents-in-law against their consent and wishes. In my view, even an adult son or daughter has no legal right to occupy the self-acquired property of the parents; against their consent and wishes. A son or daughter if permitted to live in the house occupies the same as a gratuitous licensee and if such licence is revoked, he has to vacate the said property,” the court noted in its order.

HC was hearing an appeal by the daughter-in-law against a trial court’s verdict directing her to hand over peaceful and vacant possession of the property to her estranged father-in-law. In her plea in HC the woman said she is a legally wedded wife and has a right to live in the property from where her father-in-law wants her evicted.

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She claimed that the property was purchased out of joint family funds. Accusing the father-in-law and husband of harassing her for dowry, she informed HC that she is living separately from her husband due to matrimonial discord and divorce proceedings are on. Under DV Act, the property is a shared household where she has the right to reside, the wife maintained.

But the father in law through advocate Prabhjit Jauhar told HC that he is sole owner of the self-acquired property. Jauhar also convinced the court that the property was not purchased from joint family funds and his son had no share in it.

The father-in-law furnished before the court proof that he disowned his son in 2010 who has since then been living separately.

Justice Pathak concluded that the legal position “which can be culled out from the above reports is that the daughter-in-law has no right to continue to occupy the self -acquired property of her parents-in-law against their wishes more so when her husband has no independent right therein nor is living there, as it is not a “shared household” within the meaning of Section 17(1) of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.”

HC also took into account lack of evidence to show that suit property was purchased from joint family funds.

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