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Court rejects ‘financially independent’ woman’s plea for maintenance

In the latest interpretation of the Domestic Violence Act,a city court has held that while the legislation must come to the aid of women in distress,it cannot grant relief,even to an unmarried sister,if she appears to be monetarily competent.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
October 7, 2009 11:42:57 pm

In the latest interpretation of the Domestic Violence Act,a city court has held that while the legislation must come to the aid of women in distress,it cannot grant relief,even to an unmarried sister,if she appears to be monetarily competent.

Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) S K Sarvaria made it clear that the object of the law was to come to the rescue of underprivileged women in domestic relations — wives,mothers,sisters and live-in partners — and cannot stretch to the extent of directing a man to give compensation or residence rights to someone,who is well-to-do with means to maintain herself.

Justifying the view,ASJ Sarvaria said that a court cannot forget that when the interests of a large number of people are pitted against that of an individual,the latter’s benefits must give way to the former.

Significantly,The Protection Of Women From Domestic Violence Act,introduced in 2005,is peculiar in a manner that it is open to subjective interpretations by the judiciary,which keeping in sync with the changing times,had recently ruled that even a live-in partner was entitled to all the benefits under the statute,for it was also a domestic relation,like that of wife.

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ASJ Sarvaria observed that the discretion the judges could exercise in passing orders under the Act must be based on sound judicial principles so that the women do not suffer.

“The case of a deprived wife or unmarried sister or daughter,who is unable to maintain herself and is thrown out of her matrimonial home or from the shared household,is on a different footing. On showing prima facie such facts to the court,the court may come with a heavy hand in support of such a woman to grant her relief.

“But when a woman,though unmarried,is prima facie sufficient to maintain herself and is financially well off,the court should be slow to grant interim relief,” held ASJ Sarvaria in a recent verdict.

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The case related to a woman,who had filed the petition against her brother seeking right to reside in the house at Defence Colony,reportedly owned by their father.

The 47-year-old woman said in her petition that she had left for the USA in September 2000 but when she returned to India in July,2008,her brother did not let her in. As she had no alternate accommodation and was a patient of a skin disease,it was the duty of her brother under the Act to maintain her and let her live in the shared household.

ASJ Sarvaria,however,differed. “When a woman,though unmarried,is prima facie sufficient to maintain her and has herself been living abroad for about nine years,the temporary relief of residence if granted would cause continuous inconveniences to others living in the property,” said the court.

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It further noted that granting relief to her would spell trouble for others and the “justice oriented approach” did not allow for the same.

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First published on: 07-10-2009 at 11:42:57 pm

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