SC: Live-in Partner entitled to shared household also under DV Act.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court on 30.10.2018, in the matter of Lalita Toppo v. The State of Jharkhand and Anr. in its order observed that an estranged wife or a live-in partner who is not a legally wedded wife would have a remedy to seek shared household also along with the remedy to seek maintenance under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The Hon’ble Apex Court observed that: 

(Para 1) An estranged wife/live-in partner would have an efficacious remedy to seek maintenance under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to “DVC Act, 2005”) even assuming that she is not the legally wedded wife and, therefore, not entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This is because of the provisions contained in Section 3(a) of the DVC Act, 2005 which defines the term “domestic violence” in the following terms:

“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, limp 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 ………………………….. ………………………….”

(Para 2) Economic abuse also constitutes domestic violence and economic abuse has been defined by Explanation I (iv) to Section 3 of the DVC Act, 2005 to mean:

“(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.”

Under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 the victim i.e. estranged wife or live-in-partner would be entitled to more relief than what is contemplated under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, namely, to a shared household also. (Para 3)

Copy of order: Order 30-Oct-2018

-Tushar Kaushik

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