Brother In-Law Can Also Be Ordered To Pay Maintenance To The Widow Under Domestic Violence Act, Supreme Court Confirms

Team SoOLEGAL 27 May 2019 3:00pm

Brother In-Law Can Also Be Ordered To Pay Maintenance To The Widow Under Domestic Violence Act, Supreme Court Confirms

The Supreme Court states that a brother in law can be ordered to pay maintenance to a widow. In this case, the lady and her deceased husband were residing at a house which was a ancestral Hindu Joint Family Property. The deceased husband and the brother in law together were doing a business of a kiraana store. The woman, filed a complaint under Domestic Violence Act alleging that, after the death of her husband she and her child were not allowed to reside in her matrimonial home. Wherein, the Trial court ordered an interim monthly maintenance amount of Rs 4,000 to the woman and Rs 2,000 for the child. The brother in law was directed to pay the said amount. This order came to be affirmed by the High court.

In appeal before the Supreme Court (Ajay Kumar vs. Latha @ Sharuti), the 'brother in law' contended that there were no basis under the provisions of the Act to impose liability upon him. However, the bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta observed that the substantive part of Section 2(q) indicates that the expression "respondent" means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom relief has been sought. And stated;

"The proviso indicates that both, an aggrieved wife or a female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner, as the case may be.. Section 2(f) defines the expression 'domestic relationship' to mean a relationship where two persons live or have lived together at any point of time in a shared household when they are related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are members living together as a joint family…. All these definitions indicate the width and amplitude of the intent of Parliament in creating both an obligation and a remedy in the terms of the enactment."

The court stated that the contention in the complaint 'prima facie' indicate that the house where she and her spouse resided, belong to a joint family. Upholding the order, the bench further stated[;

"Ultimately, whether the requirements of Section 2(f); Section 2(q); and Section 2(s) are fulfilled is a matter of evidence which will be adjudicated upon at the trial. At this stage, for the purpose of an interim order for maintenance, there was material which justifies the issuance of a direction in regard to the payment of maintenance."

Tagged: justicehemantgupta   justiceDYChandrachud   supremecourt   domesticviolence  
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