The Delhi High Court on Monday ruled that a daughter-in-law’s right in a shared household is not an indefeasible right and cannot be to the exclusion of the in-laws [Ritu Chernalia vs Amar Chernalia and Ors.]
Justice Pratibha M Singh relied on the Supreme Court’s judgment in Satish Chander Ahuja vs Sneha Ahuja and said that it was clear that the right is not absolute and could not be to the exclusion of in-laws.
Hence, the Court ruled that the petitioner’s stance that her in-laws should not be allowed to live in their own property was contrary to the settled understanding of the subject.
“Thus, the concept of ‘shared household’ clearly provides that the right of the daughter-in-law in a shared household is not an indefeasible right and cannot be to the exclusion of the in-laws. The stand of the Petitioner that the in-laws should not be allowed to live in their own property is completely contrary to the settled understanding on the subject,” the Court said.
The Court was hearing a petition by a woman in a matrimonial dispute against a Divisional Commissioner’s order that overturned her eviction but directed her to share the house with her parents-in-law.
The eviction order was passed by a District Magistrate under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act.
The petitioner informed the Court that she was satisfied with the eviction being set aside. However, due to her strained relationship with her in-laws, she expressed her reluctance to share a house with them, particularly considering her 9-year-old son.
She did not dispute that that the property belonged to her in-laws. She also informed the Court that she was offered alternative homes but rejected them as they were shared houses as well.
The respondents told the Court that they were living with their married daughter and that the petitioner residing with them was, therefore, an embarrassment. They claimed that five alternatives were suggested to the petitioner which she rejected.
The Court noted that the Divisional Commissioner had merely held that the respondents had a right to stay in the suit property and that it could not be questioned as the owned it.
It also noted that the petitioner was currently occupying the entire property and was not willing to move to any alternate premises.
In the circumstances, the Court passed an order directing the petitioners to live in one bedroom and the respondents to live in another. The order further stated that the petitioner’s son could use the third bedroom for his studies subject to it being accessible to all parties.