Supreme Court: Wife cannot implicate one and all in Domestic Violence case…Quashed against 9 respondents
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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 43 OF 2013
(SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL.)NO.8522 OF 2010) ASHISH DIXIT & ORS. APPELLANTS VERSUS
STATE OF U.P. & ANR. RESPONDENTS O R D E R
1. Leave granted.
2. This appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 05.07.2010 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Criminal Miscellaneous Application No.8358 of 2008. By the impugned judgment and order, the High Court has refused to quash the proceedings initiated against the petitioners by the respondent no.2-wife, under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (for brevity “the Act, 2005”).
3. In the petition filed by respondent no.2, apart from arraying her husband and her parents-in-law as parties to the proceedings, has included all and sundry, as
: 2 :
respondents. To say the least, she has even alleged certain actions said to have been done by the tenant whose name is not even known to her.
4. In a matter of this nature, we are of the opinion that the High Court at least should have directed that the petition filed by respondent no.2 be confined to her husband as also her parents-in-law and should not have allowed the impleadment of respondent nos.4 to 12.
5. In view of the above, while allowing this appeal in part, we quash the proceedings as against appellant nos. 4 to 12 in Case No.240 of 2007. We direct the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Agra to proceed with the aforesaid case; only against the husband i.e. Shri Ashish Dixit, S/o. Padmakar Dutt Sharma, her father in law, Shri Padmakar Dutt Sharma, S/o.late Pt.Diwakar Dutt Sharma and Smt.Girja Dixit, W/o.Shri Padmakar Dutt Sharma, her mother in law.
: 3 :
6. We are of the opinion that the direction issued by the High Court, inter-alia, directing the appellants herein to appear before the Trial Court and seek bail is wholly unnecessary. …………………..J.
(CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)
JANUARY 07, 2013.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
Date of Reserve: 2010
Date of Order: 20th September, 2010
+ CRL.M.C. 4159/2009, Crl. M.A. No. 14141/2009
% 20.09.2010 ADIL & ORS. ….. Petitioner Through: Mr. N.K. Handa, Adv.
STATE & ANR. ….. Respondent Through Ms Rakhi Dubey, Adv. for R-2 along with
R-2 in person.
Mr Sunil Sharma, APP for the State
SI Beena Thakur, Investigating Officer
JUSTICE SHIV NARAYAN DHINGRA
1. Whether reporters of local papers may be allowed to see the judgment? Yes.
2. To be referred to the reporter or not? Yes.
3. Whether judgment should be reported in Digest? Yes. JUDGMENT
1. By this petition the petitioners have assailed orders dated 30th November, 2009, and 6th November, 2009, passed by learned Metropolitan Magistrate (MM).
2. Brief facts relevant for the purpose of deciding this petition are that the respondent Kaushar Bano was married to Zahid Khan, brother of the three petitioners on 16th March, 1994. Zahid Khan died on 14th November, 2002, at Delhi. After his death, Kaushar Bano filed an FIR on 26th July, 2003 against the petitioners and her mother-in-law and other relatives making various Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 1 of 8 allegations of cruelty, dowry demand etc. In this FIR, she gave her residence as House No. 5, Gali Masjidwali No. 1, Babarpur, Shahadara, Delhi 32.
3. After coming into force of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (in short Domestic Violence Act), she filed an application under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act on 6th August, 2007, and also made an application for interim relief under Section 23 of Domestic Violence Act seeking right of residence in the property where petitioners were living i.e. District Bulandshahar, U.P.
4. The Court of MM passed an order dated 19 th April, 2008, observing that the property, in which right of residence was being sought by Kaushar Bano, was a property of her mother-in-law and cannot be termed as shared household. She, therefore, dismissed the application for interim relief and fixed the case for evidence giving an opportunity to prove the facts.
5. Against this order Kaushar Bano preferred an appeal before the learned Sessions Judge. Learned Additional Sessions Judge observed that the mother-in-law of Kaushar Bano i.e. mother of the present petitioners, expired on 4th June, 2008, and after her death, the question whether the property constituted shared house-hold would be required to be gone into by the MM again and the MM would determine if the appellant would be entitled to a relief in the changed circumstances since the property (matrimonial home) was indeed not in the name of any of the respondents i.e. the present petitioners, their mother having expired. She remanded back the matter to MM vide her order dated 27th November, 2008.
Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 2 of 8
6. After the matter was remanded back, learned MM reconsidered the application under Section 23 of Domestic Violence Act and passed order dated 6th November, 2009 observing that respondent had a right to live in the property at Bulandshahar. It was brought to the notice of the MM that present petitioners have filed a civil suit in the Court of Civil Judge, S.D., Bulandshahar, U.P. in respect of same property, wherein wife Kaushar Bano was made as a respondent.
7. The learned MM allowed application of wife observing that vide order dated 19th April, 2008, the interim relief was refused to Kaushar Bano on the ground that house in Bulandshahar did not constitute a shared household as no document was on record to show that property was one in which the husband had a right or it was exclusive property of mother-in-law. She observed that, prima facie, the interim order was refused to Kaushar Bano on the ground that property belonged to mother-in-law, but the stand taken by the present petitioners was contrary to the reply filed by them later on where they had taken a stand that house in question belonged to their father and a settlement/Will was executed by him. She observed that since the earlier stand taken before the Court was that the property belonged to their mother and mother had expired intestate, deceased husband of Kaushar Bano being a son had a right in the property in question, hence the property can be termed as shared household. She, therefore, held that Kaushar Bano had a right of residence in the property in Town Gulaothi, District Bulandshahar, U.P.
Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 3 of 8
8. Against this order, an appeal was preferred by the petitioners before the learned Additional Sessions Judge who observed that there was no infirmity in the order passed by the learned MM and the property could be termed as shared household within the definition as given in Section 2(s) Act. Vide order dated 30th November, 2009 the learned MM called upon the site plan of the property and she directed a portion of the property to be handed over to Kaushar Bano.
9. A perusal of the FIR dated 23rd July, 2003 lodged by Kaushar Bano against her in laws would show that her husband was a Doctor and had started practicing in Delhi, though the date of shifting to Delhi has been kept vague in the complaint. Her complaint also shows that birth of her first child, a female, had taken place at Bulandshahar on 23 rd June, 1997, whereas male child Shahid was born on 22nd December, 1998 at House No. 5, Gali Masjidwali No. 1, Babarpur, Shahadara, Delhi-32. The complaint also gives an impression that her husband had separated from his other brothers sometime in 1998-1999, when she alleged that her dowry articles and Istridhan were misappropriated and she started residing at Delhi with her husband. Her husband died on 14th November, 2002 at Delhi. A perusal of directory of community of the petitioners, released by Delhi Government, shows that it contained the names of entire family members of Kaushar Bano, her husband and three children. The address given in the directory is A-5, Main Gali Masjid Wali, Babar Pur, Shahdara, Delhi-32. Her husband Zahid Khan has been shown as a Doctor and three children of couple namely Shahrukh, Heena and Sahil find mention in director. A perusal of Voters List Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 4 of 8 of Babarpur of year 2003 would also show that names of Kaushar Bano and her husband appear in Voters List of Babarpur. It appears couple had separated from rest of the family about 8 years before filing of application under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
10. It is apparent from the perusal of the order of Trial Court and Appellate Court that both, the Trial Court and the Appellate Court mis-directed themselves and did not consider the relevant provision of the Domestic Violence Act. Under Domestic Violence Act, the first pre-condition is that the applicant must be an aggrieved person. Aggrieved person is a person defined in Section 2 (a) of the Act. The domestic relationship must be there between the aggrieved person and respondent to invoke Domestic Violence Act. This Court had clarified the legal position in respect of domestic relationship in Vijay Verma Vs. State NCT of Delhi & Anr., Criminal Misc. No. 3878 of 2009 and observed as under:
“5. Filing of a petition under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act by the petitioner taking shelter of domestic relationship and domestic violence needs to be considered so that this Act is not misused to settle property disputes. Domestic relationship is defined under the Act in Section 2(f) as under:
“(f) domestic relationship means a
relationship between two persons
who live or have, at any point of
time, lived together in a shared
household, when they are related by
consanguinity, marriage, or through
a relationship in the nature of
marriage, adoption or are family
members living together as a joint
Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 5 of 8
6. A perusal of this provision makes it clear that domestic relationship arises in respect of an aggrieved person if the aggrieved person had lived together with the respondent in a shared household. This living together can be either soon before filing of petition or at any point of time. The problem arises with the meaning of phrase “at any point of time”. Does that mean that living together at any stage in the past would give right to a person to become aggrieved person to claim domestic
relationship? I consider that “at any point of time” under the Act only means where an aggrieved person has been continuously living in the shared household as a matter of right but for some reason the aggrieved person has to leave the house temporarily and when she returns, she is not allowed to enjoy her right to live in the property. However, “at any point of time” cannot be defined as “at any point of time in the past” whether the right to live survives or not. For example if there is a joint family where father has several sons with daughters-in-law living in a house and ultimately sons, one by one or together, decide that they should live separate with their own families and they establish separate household and start living with their respective families separately at different places; can it be said that wife of each of the sons can claim a right to live in the house of father-in-law because at one point of time she along with her husband had lived in the shared household. If this meaning is given to the shared household then the whole purpose of Domestic Violence Act shall stand defeated. Where a family member leaves the shared household to establish his own household, and actually establishes his own household, he cannot claim to have a right to move an application under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act on the basis of domestic relationship. Domestic relationship comes to an end once the son along with his family moved out of the joint family and established his own household or when a daughter gets married and establishes her own
household with her husband. Such son, daughter,
daughter-in-law, son-in-law, if they have any right in the property say because of coparcenary or because of inheritance, such right can be claimed by an independent civil suit and an application under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act cannot be filed by a person who has established his separate household and ceased to have a domestic relationship. Domestic relationship continues so long as the parties live under the same roof and enjoy living together in a shared household. Only a Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 6 of 8 compelled or temporarily going out by aggrieved person shall fall in phrase at any point of time, say, wife has gone to her parents house or to a relative or some other female member has gone to live with her some relative, and, all her articles and belongings remain within the same household and she has not left the household permanently, the domestic relationship continues. However, where the living together has been given up and a separate household is established and belongings are removed, domestic relationship comes to an end and a relationship of being relatives of each other survives. This is very normal in families that a person whether, a male or a female attains self sufficiency after education or otherwise and takes a job lives in some other city or country, enjoys life there, settles home there. He cannot be said to have domestic relationship with the persons whom he left behind. His relationship that of a brother and sister, father and son, father and daughter, father and daughter-in-law etc survives but the domestic relationship of living in a joint household would not survive & comes to an end.”
11. In this case it could not have been decided by the Court of MM without recording evidence as to whether any domestic relationship existed between the parties on the date of filing application or soon before that in accordance with law laid down by this Court. It must be kept in mind that resort of Domestic Violence Act cannot be done to enforce property rights. For enforcement of property rights, the parties are supposed to approach civil court. Resort to Domestic Violence Act can be done only where there is urgent requirement of wife to be maintained and provided residence when because of domestic violence, she had been rendered homeless and she had lost source of maintenance. Domestic Violence Act is not meant to enforce the legal rights of property, neither an interim order can be passed without first prima facie coming to conclusion that a domestic relationship existed between Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 7 of 8 the parties and the applicant was an aggrieved person within the meaning of Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act. In the present case, the order of learned MM and learned ASJ is absolutely silent as to how respondent was an aggrieved person and how a domestic relationship existed between her and petitioners.
12. I, therefore, set aside the orders dated 6th November, 2009 and 30th November, 2009 of learned MM. Learned MM shall record evidence first and decide whether a domestic relationship existed between the parties and whether the applicant fell within the scope of aggrieved person as defined in Section 2(a) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and then pass appropriate order.
September 20, 2010 SHIV NARAYAN DHINGRA, J. acm
Crl. M.C. No. 4159 of 2009 Page 8 of 8
Crl. Rev. P. No.252/2010, 253/2010 & 338/2010 Page 1 of 16 * IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI Date of Reserve: 6th July, 2010 Date of Order: 29th July, 2010 + Crl. Rev. P. No. 253/2010 % 29.07.2010 Harbans Lal Malik … Petitioner Through: Mr. Dharam Raj, Advocate Versus Payal Malik … Respondents Through: Mr. R.Jain, Mr. Deepak Aggarwal & Mr. D.Jain, Advocates + Crl. Rev. P. No. 252/2010 % 29.07.2010 Varun Malik … Petitioner Through: Mr. Dharam Raj, Advocate Versus Payal Malik … Respondents Through: Mr. R.Jain, Mr. Deepak Aggarwal & Mr. D.Jain, Advocates + Crl. Rev. P. No. 338/2010 % 29.07.2010 Nagesh Malik … Petitioner Through: Mr. Dharam Raj, Advocate Versus Payal Malik … Respondents Through: Mr. R.Jain, Mr. Deepak Aggarwal & Mr. D.Jain, Advocates JUSTICE SHIV NARAYAN DHINGRA 1. Whether reporters of local papers may be allowed to see the judgment? Yes. 2. To be referred to the reporter or not? Yes. 3. Whether judgment should be reported in Digest? Yes.
These petitions arise out of order passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge on 7th May, 2010 while disposing of two appeals against the order dated 27th July, 2009 passed by the learned MM.
2. The undisputed facts are that Ms. Payal Malik used to live with her parents before marriage at Hissar. Her marriage took place with Mr. Nagesh Malik whose parents used to live at Panipat. Marriage of the parties was solemnized at Panipat on 30th August, 2001. Nagesh Malik was already working in USA and after marriage both of them went to USA on 20th September, 2001 where they settled their matrimonial home and lived together. On 24th October, 2002 a female child was born to the couple at USA, who was named as Vanishka. The parties continued living together in USA till 2008. It seems deep differences arose between the parties and they could not pull on together. There are allegations and counter allegations made by wife and husband which are not relevant for the purpose of deciding this petition. However, husband alleged that on 6th August, 2008 due to these differences, parties executed a post-nuptial agreement and decided to obtain divorce from each other, sticking to the agreement. Wife refutes having signed the agreement voluntarily and alleges that she was turned out from USA by her husband on 22nd August, 2008. Whereas the husband‟s contention is that she of her own left USA without joining the husband for obtaining divorce through a Court in USA. The husband filed a divorce petition before Superior Court of New Jersey Chancery Division Family Court USA on 27th August, 2008. The notice of divorce suit was duly served on her. The Court of New Jersey allowed the divorce petition and a decree of divorce was granted on 4th December, 2008.
3. On 13th January, 2009 wife filed a complaint before CAW Cell Hissar against husband and in-laws. Ms. Sushila, Inspector of CAW Cell Hissar, vide her report dated 20th January, 2009, observed that the allegations in the complaint were not true and it was useless to keep the complaint pending further. Thereafter, wife filed a complaint in the Court of MM at Delhi making her husband (Nagesh Malik), father-in-law (Harbans Lal Malik), mother-in-law (Neelam Malik) and brother-in-law (Varun Malik) as parties under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 [in short – Domestic Violence Act] with a prayer that Court should pass a protection order under Section 18, residence order under Section 19, monetary relief order under Section 20, compensation order under Section 22 and interim orders under Section 23 of the Act. She made allegations of mal-treatment at the hands of respondents from day one of the marriage till she left USA and came to India. She stated, after coming back from USA she went to her in-laws‟ house at Panipat but found the house locked as her parents-in-law had gone to USA. She also stated that her husband had sent a complaint to SP Panipat leveling certain scandalous allegations against her. She graduated from Delhi University in 1998 and had done interior designing course from South Delhi Polytechnic. She alleged that her in-laws had three houses and an industrial unit in Panipat. They had properties in Delhi as well and respondent no.1 (her husband) had share in properties of her in-laws. She submitted that her complaint at CAW Cell Hissar could not be pursued by her as her in-laws had tried to mislead Haryana police and also because of a tragedy in her family. She left her parents‟ house and came to Delhi to pursue her career prospects. She was presently residing at Malviya Nagar, Delhi. Till the time she was not given back her matrimonial home (at Panipat), she would live in Delhi, so the Court of MM at Delhi had jurisdiction. She prayed that custody of child Vanshika should be given to her. She should be given shares in properties at Panipat and Delhi as well as a house in New Jersey, USA. She should be given Rs.20,000/- per month for her maintenance and education as she intended to pursue further study and Court should direct for return of her dowry articles. Along with main application under the Domestic Violence Act, applications for interim reliefs were made. She in the application under Section 23 of the Act prayed for a residence or in lieu thereof a sum of Rs.20,000/- per month and Rs.50,000/- as onetime payment to meet education expenses, a car or Rs.8,000/- per month in lieu of the car and Rs.20,000/- per month for her day-to-day expenses and Rs.50,000/- as onetime payment to repay her debts.
4. The learned MM, by her order dated 27th July, 2009 directed that an amount of Rs.50,000/- per month be paid to wife as interim maintenance jointly or severally by respondents no. 1,2 & 4. She dropped respondent no.3 from the array of respondents on the ground that petition against a female respondent was not maintainable.
5. It was pleaded before the learned MM by the petitioner that there was a decree of divorce granted by a Competent Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division after following due procedure as laid down in USA. After grant of divorce there was no domestic relationship of Ms. Payal Malik with any of the respondents. (It is noted in the order of MM that the decree of divorce passed by the Court of US was placed on record.) Reliance was also placed by the petitioner on post nuptial agreement as entered into between husband and wife. The learned trial Court did not think it proper to deal with the issue whether an application under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act could be entertained at all in respect of a divorced wife and whether the decree of divorce granted by the foreign Court where the parties had lived together for more than seven years, had some value or not.
6. The trial Court after discussing the objects and aims of The Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and after reproducing a quote from novelist Joseph Conrad “being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men” [as if men, though given birth by women, are ferocious animals and not human beings, but cannibals] passed an order for grant of maintenance.
7. In appeal before the learned Sessions Judge, an argument was pressed that the judgment given by New Jersey Court was conclusive evidence of status of the parties and in view of Section 14 of Code of Civil Procedure and Section 4 of The Indian Evidence Act, unless the judgment was set aside the trial Court should not have entertained the petition under Section 12 of The Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act. It was pleaded that only an application under Section 125 Cr.P.C. (which is applicable to divorced wife) could have been entertained by a Court, if moved. It was argued by wife that decree of divorce was obtained by fraud and was hit by Section 13 CPC and therefore could not stand in the way of entertaining an application under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act.
8. The learned Sessions Judge while deciding appeal observed that the provisions of Domestic Violence Act are to be interpreted taking help of Section 125 Cr.P.C. and the explanation given under Section 125 Cr.P.C. of “Wife” is to be read in Domestic Violence Act also. He further observed that the Court has to take pragmatic approach and unless the dissolution of marriage was proved by evidence, the Court has not to act on the decree. He therefore dismissed the appeal filed by husband and other respondents observing that there was no illegality in the order of learned trial Court in granting maintenance. He allowed an appeal filed by wife in respect of execution of the order of of MM and directed that Ministry of External Affairs be sent a request to execute the order dated 27th July, 2009 as per law.
9. The first issue arising in this case is whether an application under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act made by the respondent could have been entertained against all the respondents (petitioners herein) as arrayed in her application and whether the Court without discussing the domestic and legal relationship of different respondents with the petitioner, could have passed an order against the petitioners making them jointly and severally liable to pay maintenance of Rs.50,000/-.
10. Under Section 12, an „aggrieved person‟ can file an application to Magistrate against the respondents. The respondent has been defined under Section 2 (q). The definition reads as under:
“respondent” means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act: Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.
11. It is apparent that in order to make a person as respondent in a petition under Section 12, there must exist a domestic relationship between the respondent and the aggrieved person. If there is no domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the respondent, the Court of MM cannot pass an order against such a person under the Act. Domestic relationship is defined under Section 2 (f) of the Act and is as under: “domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family;
12. It is apparent that domestic relationship arises between the two persons, who have lived together in a shared household and when they are related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family. The definition speaks of living together at any point of time however it does not speak of having relation at any point of time. Thus, if the domestic relationship continued and if the parties have lived together at any point of time in a shared household, the person can be a respondent but if the relationship does not continue and the relationship had been in the past and is not in the present, a person cannot be made respondent on the ground of a past relationship. The domestic relationship between the aggrieved person and the respondent must be present and alive at the time when complaint under Domestic Violence Act is filed and if this relationship is not alive on the date when complaint is filed, the domestic relationship cannot be said to be there. The first respondent made by the wife in her complaint before the learned MM in this case was husband with whom the wife had lived under the same roof in a shared household till 22nd August, 2008 in USA. She had not lived for last 7 ½ years with respondent no.1 in India. Respondent No.4 is Varun Malik who is brother of the husband. Under no circumstances it can be said that brother of husband, who was a major and independent, living separately from this husband and wife, had any kind of domestic relationship or moral or legal responsibility/obligations towards his brother‟s wife. He had not lived in domestic relationship with Payal Malik at any point of time. Merely because a person is brother of the husband he cannot be arrayed as a respondent, nor does an MM gets authority over each and every relative of the husband, without going into the fact whether a domestic relationship or shared household was there between the aggrieved person and the respondent.
13. The other respondent made in this case is Harbans Lal, father of Nagesh Malik. Nagesh Malik was living in USA he came to India to solemnize his marriage with an appropriate person. After marriage was solemnized he left India and went to USA. He lived all along with his wife in USA, birth of the child had taken place in USA. In all such cases where boy lives abroad and is settled abroad but comes to India for marriage, it is known to the girl as well as to the parents of the girl that they are choosing a groom who is not living with his parents but settled abroad. His links with the parents are only as with any other relative. He is not dependent on parents may be parents, if poor, take financial help from him.
14. The girl and the parents of the girl knew it very well that they had selected a person for marriage with whom the girl was going to live abroad and the matrimonial home and the shared household was going to be outside India. This act of marrying a person settled abroad is a voluntary act of the girl. If she had not intended to enjoy the fat salary which boys working abroad get and the material facilities available abroad, she could have refused to marry him and settled for a boy having moderate salary within India. After having chosen a person living abroad, putting the responsibility, after failure of marriage, on the shoulders on his parents and making them criminals in the eyes of law because matrimonial ties between the two could not last for long, does not sound either legally correct or morally correct. How can the parents of a boy who is working abroad, living abroad, an adult, free to take his own decisions, be arrayed as criminals or respondents if the marriage between him and his wife failed due to any reason whatsoever after few years of marriage. If the sin committed by such parents of boy is that they facilitated the marriage, then this sin is equally committed by parents of the girl. If such marriage fails then parents of both bride and groom would have to share equal responsibility. The responsibility of parents of the groom cannot be more. Shelter of Indian culture and joint family cannot be taken to book only relatives of boy. A woman‟s shared household in India in such cases is also her parents‟ house where she lived before marriage and not her in-laws‟ house where she did not live after marriage.
15. When the shared household of husband and wife had not been in India for the last 08 years at any point of time, it is strange that the learned MM did not even think it proper to discuss as to how the father or the brother of the boy could be made respondents in proceedings of domestic violence, after husband and wife had not been able to pull on together. In the present case, Mr. Harbans Lal Malik petitioner could not be said to have shared household with the respondent since the respondent had not lived in his house as a family member, in a joint family of which Harbans Lal Malik was the head.
16. It is important to consider as to what “family” is and what “joint family” is. As per Black‟s Law Dictionary (VI Edition) “family” means a collective body of persons who live in one house under one head or management. Dictionary states that the meaning of word “family” necessarily depends on field of law in which word is used, but this is the most common meaning. “Family” also means a group of blood relatives and all the relations who descend from a common ancestor or who spring from a common root. However, for the purpose of domestic violence act where the object is to protect a woman from domestic violence, “family” has to be defined as a collective body of persons who live in one house under one head or management. In Chamber‟s Dictionary (1994-95) again the “family” is defined as all those who live in one house i.e. parents, children servants; parents and their children. In Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1993 ed.) “family” is defined as a group of persons living in one household including parents and their children, boarders, servants and such a group is a organizational unit of society.
17. A Hindu Joint Family or Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) or a Joint Family is an extended family arrangement prevalent among Hindus of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of many generations living under the same roof. All the male members are blood relatives and all the women are either mothers, wives, unmarried daughters or widowed relatives, all bound by the common sapinda relationship. The joint family status being the result of birth, possession of joint cord that knits the members of the family together is not property but the relationship. The family is headed by a patriarch, usually the oldest male, who makes decisions on economic and social matters on behalf of the entire family. The patriarch‟s wife generally exerts control over the kitchen, child rearing and minor religious practices. All money goes to the common pool and all property is held jointly. The essential features of a joint family are:
- Head of the family takes all decisions
- All members live under one roof
- Share the same kitchen
- Three generations living together (though often two or more brothers live together or father and son live together or all the descendants of male live together)
- Income and expenditure in a common pool – property held together.
- A common place of worship
- All decisions are made by the male head of the family – patrilineal, patriarchal.
18. Thus, in order to constitute a family and domestic relationship it is necessary that the persons who constitute domestic relationship must be living together in the same house under one head. If they are living separate then they are not a family but they are relatives related by blood or consanguinity to each other. Where parents live separate from their son like any other relative, the family of son cannot include his parents. The parents can be included in the family of son only when they are dependent upon the son and/or are living along with the son in the same house. But when they are not dependent upon the son and they are living separate, the parents shall constitute a separate family and son, his wife and children shall constitute a separate family. There can be no domestic relationship of the wife of son with the parents when the parents are not living along with the son and there can be no domestic relationship of a wife with the parents of her husband when son along with the wife is living abroad, maintaining a family there and children are born abroad. I, therefore consider that Harbans Lal Malik could not have been made as a respondent in a petition under Domestic Violence Act as he had no domestic relationship with aggrieved person even if this marriage between her and her husband was subsisting.
19. I, also consider that the definition of “wife” as available under Section 125 Cr.P.C could not be imported into Domestic Violence Act. The Legislature was well aware of Section 125 Cr.P.C. and if Legislature intended, it would have defined “wife” as in Section 125 Cr.P.C in Domestic Violence Act as well. The purpose and object of Domestic Violence and provision under Section 125 Cr.P.C. is different. While Domestic Violence Act has been enacted by the Parliament to prevent acts of domestic violence on women living in a shared household. Section 125 of Cr.P.C. is to prevent vagrancy where wife is left high and dry without maintenance. Law gives a right to claim maintenance under Civil Law as well as Section 125 Cr.P.C. even to a divorced wife, but an act of domestic violence cannot be committed on a divorced wife, who is not living with her husband or family and is free to live wherever she wants. She has a right to claim maintenance and enforce other rights as per law. She has a right to claim custody of children as per law but denial of these rights do not amount to domestic violence. Domestic Violence is not perceived in this manner. The definition of “Domestic Violence” as given in Section 3 of The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and is under: 3. Definition of domestic violence.- For the purposes of this Act, any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it – (a) harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or (b) harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or (c) has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person. Explanation I.-For the purposes of this section,- (i) “physical abuse” means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force; (ii) “sexual abuse” includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman; (iii) “verbal and emotional abuse” includes-
(a) insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule specially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and (b) repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested. (iv) “economic abuse” includes- (a) deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance; (b) disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person; and (c) prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.
20. This definition pre supposes that the woman is living with the person who committed violence and domestic relationship is not dead buried or severed. This does not speak of past violence which a woman suffered before grant of divorce.
21. The next question which arises is whether the learned Court of MM could have ignored the decree granted by the Court of New Jersey, USA. Section 14 of CPC reads as under:
14. Presumption as to foreign judgments. – The Court shall presume upon the production of any document purporting to be a certified copy of a foreign judgment that such judgment was pronounced by a Court of competent jurisdiction, unless the contrary appears on the record; but such presumption may be displaced by proving want of jurisdiction.
22. It is evident from the reading of this provision that the Court has to presume, if a certified copy of foreign judgment is produced that such judgment was pronounced by a Court of competent jurisdiction unless the contrary appears on record or is proved. Obtaining of divorce by husband from New Jersey Court is not denied in this case. Prima facie New Jersey, USA Court had jurisdiction is evident from the fact that husband and wife lived together in New Jersey for 7 ½ years. The laws of New Jersey provided that the jurisdiction in a matrimonial matter can be assumed by the Court if the parties have ordinarily lived there for one year. In the present case admittedly the parties lived there for 7 ½ years thus prima facie there was no issue whether the Court of New Jersey had jurisdiction or not.
23. Section 13 of CPC provides as under: 13. When foreign judgment not conclusive. A foreign judgment shall be conclusive as to any matter thereby directly adjudicated upon between the same parties or between parties under whom they or any of them claim litigating under the same title except-
(a) where it has not been pronounced by a Court of competent jurisdiction;
(b) where it has not been given on the merits of the case; (c) where it appears on the face of the proceedings to be founded on an incorrect view of international law or a refusal to recognise the law of 1[India] in cases in which such law is applicable; (d) where the proceedings in which the judgment was obtained are opposed to natural justice; (e) where it has been obtained by fraud; (f) where it sustains a claim founded on a breach of any law in force in 1[India].
24. It is evident that a foreign judgment has to be on the face of it considered to be final. The explanations as mentioned in Section 13 are to be proved by a person who alleges that the foreign judgment was not to be relied on and should not be considered. A foreign judgment can be set aside by a competent Court, only when the person aggrieved from foreign judgment asks for a declaration that the judgment should not be acted upon. So long as the foreign judgment is not set aside and the issue regarding foreign judgment is not adjudicated by a competent Court, the judgment cannot be ignored and a Court cannot brush aside a foreign judgment as a non- consequential. Section 13 & 14 of CPC provide how a foreign judgment is to be dealt with. A Court in India has to presume that the judgment delivered by a foreign Court where the parties had lived for 7 ½ years and given birth to a girl, is a judgment given by a competent court and if anyone wants that this judgment be disregarded, he has to prove the same before the Court. So long as he does not prove it, the judgment is considered as a valid judgment and has to be given effect to.
25. It was argued by the respondent Counsel that the respondent did not participate in proceedings before the Court of New Jersey, USA. Participating or not participating before the Court is not a ground for setting aside its judgment. The grounds for setting aside a foreign judgment are given in Section 13 CPC and this is not one of the grounds.
26. The question of jurisdiction was considered by the Court of New Jersey, USA that awarded decree of divorce and it is not shown by the Counsel for respondent how Court of New Jersey had no jurisdiction when the two parties lived there for 7 ½ years and gave birth to a US citizen within the jurisdiction of that Court. Learned Counsel for the respondent relied upon Y. Narasimha Rao v. Venkata Lakshmi (1991) 3 SCC 451 to press the point that a decree of divorce granted by a foreign Court should not be relied upon since the parties were married in India and they were governed by Hindu Marriage Act. A bare perusal of the judgment of New Jersey Court would show that the divorce was granted on the ground of cruelty which is one of the grounds available under Hindu Marriage Act.
27. In Y. Narasimha Rao‟s case (supra), decree of divorce was obtained by husband from the Circuit Court of St. Louis Country Missouri, USA by creating a jurisdiction of that Court as the condition for invoking jurisdiction of that Court was 90 days residence. Supreme Court observed that the residence does not mean a “temporary residence” for the purpose of obtaining divorce but it must be “habitual residence “which is intended to be a permanent residence for future as well, since it was not the case, the decree was found to be null and void. It is not the position in this case. The parties had made New Jersey as their home for 7 ½ years thus the Court of New Jersey could not be said to have assumed jurisdiction only on the basis of temporary residence of husband. I also consider that issue of assuming jurisdiction on the basis of temporary residence may have no force today when statutory provisions in India allow assumption of jurisdiction on the basis of a temporary residence [Section 27(1)(a) of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005].
28. I am surprised that the Courts below did not give weight to the judgment of New Jersey where parties lived for 7 ½ years but assumed jurisdiction under Domestic Violence Act because of the pure temporary residence (as pleaded by her) of wife in Delhi who is otherwise resident of Hissar. The Court of ASJ wanted that the order of the Court of MM should be honoured by the US while the Court here would not honour a decree of Court of USA where the husband and wife lived for 7 ½ years.
29. I consider that the decree of divorce granted by the Court of New Jersey, USA where husband and wife lived together for 7 ½ years and gave birth to a child could not be ignored and it could not be said that domestic relationship of the wife continued with her husband in New Jersey or her in-laws living at Panipat.
30. The learned MM and learned ASJ committed jurisdictional error by assuming jurisdiction under Domestic Violence Act, in view of admitted fact that the wife had all along, before filing the petition under Domestic Violence Act, lived with her husband in USA. Her shared household had been in USA, her husband was still living in USA the child was born in USA. The courts below also committed grave error by making brother or father of the husband and father of the husband jointly responsible for payment of Rs.50,000/- to the wife. There was no justification for directing brother of the husband to pay this amount. Once a son grows and he starts earning, marries, makes his separate home, and sires children the burden of his wife cannot be put on the shoulders of his father or brother on an estrangement between husband and wife. This burden has to be borne by the husband alone and not by the parents or bothers or sister of the husband, unless and until the husband had been contributing to the joint family as a member of HUF and has a right of deriving benefits from the joint family. If the husband had not been contributing or deriving benefits from the joint family, had not been member of the joint family and the parents had been treated like any other relative, how can the parents be burdened with the responsibility of his wife. 31. In view of my above discussion, order dated 27th July, 2009 passed by learned MM and order dated 7th May, 2010 passed by learned ASJ, directing payment of Rs.50,000/- jointly and severally, ignoring the decree of divorce and without devolving upon the domestic relationship are illegal and not tenable. The orders are set aside. No order as to costs. July 29, 2010 SHIV NARAYAN DHINGRA, J. vn
* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI
Date of Reserve: July 27, 2010
Date of Order: 13th August, 2010
+ Crl. M.C. No.3878/2009
% 13.08.2010 VIJAY VERMA ….. Petitioner Through: Mr. K.K. Manan, Mr. Tarun Goomber,
Mr. Nipun Bhardwaj, Mr. Pankaj Mandiratta and
Mr. Ashish George, Advocates.
STATE N.C.T. OF DELHI & ANR. ….. Respondents Through: Mr. Sunil Sharma, APP for the State.
Mr. Sunil Sethi, Mr. Sumit Sethi & Mr. B.C.
Mishra, Advocates for R-2.
JUSTICE SHIV NARAYAN DHINGRA
1. Whether reporters of local papers may be allowed to see the judgment? Yes.
2. To be referred to the reporter or not? Yes.
3. Whether judgment should be reported in Digest? Yes. JUDGMENT
1. This petition has been filed under Section 482 Cr. P.C. assailing order of learned A.S.J. dated 7th September, 2009, upholding the order of learned M.M. dated 11th July, 2009.
2. Brief facts relevant for the purpose of deciding this petition are that the petitioner herein had filed an application under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act making her brother and his wife as Crl. M.C. No. 3878 of 2009 Page 1 of 7 respondents. She sought an interim order from the Court of M.M. for immediate residence rights and police protection so that she could stay at premises No. A-181, Defence Colony, Delhi, whenever she visited India. The petitioner is a permanent resident of USA and is living in USA since year 2000. She came to India on a visit on 15th July, 2008 and alleged that when she went to her parental house on 16th July, 2008, she was not allowed to enter her parental house and hence the application.
3. Learned MM in her order observed that in this case the petition was more in a nature of claiming right in the property. The whole dispute seemed to be property dispute between the parties and there was no ground to pass an interim order of residence. The learned ASJ upheld this contention in appeal.
4. It is not disputed that father of the petitioner is not alive. Property No. A-181, Defence Colony, New Delhi, was owned by the father of the petitioner and respondent No. 2. Petitioner claimed right in the property alleging that she had a right in her father’s property whereas respondent No. 2 relied upon a Will executed by father bequeathing his rights and share in the property in favour of his grandson. The respondent also relied upon an affidavit earlier executed by the petitioner showing that she had received her share in the property. It is also not disputed that a suit for partition titled as Crl. M.C. No. 3878 of 2009 Page 2 of 7 “Indra Warman Vs. Kishan Kumar Verma”, being CS(OS) No. 2137 of 2006, filed by the sister of petitioner was pending in the High Court wherein the petitioner was one of the defendants and the petitioner herself also filed a suit for partition in the High Court being CS(OS) No. 2028 of 2009, titled as ” Vijay Verma Vs. Kishan Kumar Verma & Ors.”
5. Filing of a petition under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act by the petitioner taking shelter of domestic relationship and domestic violence needs to be considered so that this Act is not misused to settle property disputes. Domestic relationship is defined under the Act in Section 2(f) as under:
“(f) ‘domestic relationship’ means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.”
6. A perusal of this provision makes it clear that domestic relationship arises in respect of an aggrieved person if the aggrieved person had lived together with the respondent in a shared household. This living together can be either soon before filing of petition or ‘at any point of time’. The problem arises with the meaning of phrase “at any point of time”. Does that mean that living together at any stage in the past would give right to a person to become Crl. M.C. No. 3878 of 2009 Page 3 of 7 aggrieved person to claim domestic relationship? I consider that “at any point of time” under the Act only means where an aggrieved person has been continuously living in the shared household as a matter of right but for some reason the aggrieved person has to leave the house temporarily and when she returns, she is not allowed to enjoy her right to live in the property. However, “at any point of time” cannot be defined as “at any point of time in the past” whether the right to live survives or not. For example if there is a joint family where father has several sons with daughters-in-law living in a house and ultimately sons, one by one or together, decide that they should live separate with their own families and they establish separate household and start living with their respective families separately at different places; can it be said that wife of each of the sons can claim a right to live in the house of father-in-law because at one point of time she along with her husband had lived in the shared household. If this meaning is given to the shared household then the whole purpose of Domestic Violence Act shall stand defeated. Where a family member leaves the shared household to establish his own household, and actually establishes his own household, he cannot claim to have a right to move an application under Section 12 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act on the basis of domestic relationship. Domestic relationship comes to an end once the son along with his family moved out of the joint family and established his own household or when a daughter gets married Crl. M.C. No. 3878 of 2009 Page 4 of 7 and establishes her own household with her husband. Such son, daughter, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, if they have any right in the property say because of coparcenary or because of inheritance, such right can be claimed by an independent civil suit and an application under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act cannot be filed by a person who has established his separate household and ceased to have a domestic relationship. Domestic relationship continues so long as the parties live under the same roof and enjoy living together in a shared household. Only a compelled or temporarily going out by aggrieved person shall fall in phrase ‘at any point of time’, say, wife has gone to her parents house or to a relative or some other female member has gone to live with her some relative, and, all her articles and belongings remain within the same household and she has not left the household permanently, the domestic relationship continues. However, where the living together has been given up and a separate household is established and belongings are removed, domestic relationship comes to an end and a relationship of being relatives of each other survives. This is very normal in families that a person whether, a male or a female attains self sufficiency after education or otherwise and takes a job lives in some other city or country, enjoys life there, settles home there. He cannot be said to have domestic relationship with the persons whom he left behind. His relationship that of a brother and sister, father and son, father and Crl. M.C. No. 3878 of 2009 Page 5 of 7 daughter, father and daughter-in-law etc survives but the domestic relationship of living in a joint household would not survive & comes to an end.
7. This meaning of domestic relationship has sense when we come to definition of domestic violence and the purpose of the Act. The purpose of the Act is to give remedy to the aggrieved persons against domestic violence. The domestic violence can take place only when one is living in shared household with the respondents. The acts of abuses, emotional or economic, physical or sexual, verbal or nonverbal if committed when one is living in the same shared household constitute domestic violence. However, such acts of violence can be committed even otherwise also when one is living separate. When such acts of violence take place when one is living separate, these may be punishable under different provisions of IPC or other penal laws, but, they cannot be covered under Domestic Violence Act. One has to make distinction between violence committed on a person living separate in a separate household and the violence committed on a person living in the shared household. Only violence committed by a person while living in the shared household can constitute domestic violence. A person may be threatening another person 100 miles away on telephone or by messages etc. This may amount to an offence under IPC, but, this cannot amount to domestic violence. Similarly, emotional blackmail, economic abuse and physical abuse Crl. M.C. No. 3878 of 2009 Page 6 of 7 can take place even when persons are living miles away. Such abuses are not covered under Domestic Violence Act but they are liable to be punished under Penal laws. Domestic Violence is a violence which is committed when parties are in domestic relationship, sharing same household and sharing all the household goods with an opportunity to commit violence.
8. I therefore consider that the application filed by the petitioner under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act was not at all maintainable. The petitioner had settled her separate house in America, her Passport was issued in America, she is doing job in America, she was adult and able to take care of herself, take her own decisions. She decided to live in America after leaving her parents here. If she has any right in her father’s property, she has already filed a suit for partition. An application under Section 12 of Domestic Violence Act was nothing but a gross misuse of the Act and I consider that she was rightly denied the interim relief of residence in the property left by her father. The petition is hereby dismissed.
August 13, 2010 SHIV NARAYAN DHINGRA, J. acm
Crl. M.C. No. 3878 of 2009 Page 7 of 7