Can in-laws evict daughter-in-law from their own property?

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Section 3 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 states the actual abuse or threat to the person. The abuse or threat can be physical, verbal, or economic. Domestic violence act defines an aggrieved person under section-2(a) which means any person who has been in a domestic relationship with the other spouse.  Domestic violence includes denial of food, mental torture, physical violence, taunting, and many more terrible acts. 

Matrimonial home

A matrimonial home means a property where the wife resided after the marriage and before the dissolution of marriage. Section-19 of the act gives daughter-in-law a right of residence. A matrimonial home means where the husband resides even if the property is not owned by him. A legally wedded wife only has the right to reside in the matrimonial home and not the right to share in the property.

The honorable Supreme Court of India, while sentencing a husband for driving her wife to suicide, stated that a daughter-in-law should be treated as a family member, not a housemaid and she cannot be thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time.

The Delhi high court stated that a woman fighting a case under the Domestic Violence Act cannot be evicted from a shared household by her husband and her in-laws, even if they own the property, till the time they provide her with alternative accommodation.

In the case of Batra vs. Batra judgment, the court held that the daughter-in-law has no right of residence under the domestic violence act if the property is owned by her in-laws. The appeal was initiated by the woman in Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed and stated that a daughter-in-law has the right of residence in her in-law’s property. 

Also Read: What Is alternative accommodation?

If Daughter-In-Law and Son Are Living Separately

If the daughter-in-law and husband living in another house away from her in-laws, the daughter-in-law has no right in the property owned by her father-in-law as it is not a shared household nor a matrimonial property. 

If the Daughter-In-Law Is A Widow

Courts have stated that a widowed daughter-in-law has no right to reside in the property of her in-laws if it is a self-acquired property of her in-laws. It will not be termed as a matrimonial home.

Several courts stated that a daughter-in-law has a right of residence in a shared household under the Domestic Violence Act. This is even if the house is not owned by her in-laws, and the husband had no ownership rights in the said house. With the passage of time, courts have ruled that a woman has a right to residence in such a property. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that a married woman has no right on the self-acquired property of her in-laws, as this property cannot be treated a shared property.

In 2016, the Punjab and Haryana High Court declared that a daughter-in-law has no right to the self-acquired property of her parents-in-law. 

The Delhi high court, Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. held and ordered the mother-in-law of the petitioner to provide her an alternate accommodation and compensation under provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Conclusion

Domestic Violence is a human rights issue. Domestic violence act covers those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household. Society should not act in a stereotypical manner presuming that in a domestic relationship, it is the daughter-in-law who is always a victim and the mother-in-law is always a cruel one. It differs from case to case and situation to situation. The daughter-in-law has the right of residence in the matrimonial home even if the same is owned by the father-in-law. The daughter-in-law has only the right of residence in matrimonial home and not the right to share.

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