V.D. Bhanot Vs. Savita
Petition (CRL.) No. 3916 of 2010]
O R D E R
ALTAMAS KABIR, J.
Special Leave Petition is directed against the judgment and order dated 22nd March,
2010, passed by the Delhi High Court in Cr.M.C.No.3959 of 2009 filed by the Respondent
wife, Mrs. Savita Bhanot, questioning the order passed by the learned Additional
Sessions Judge on 18th September, 2009, dismissing the appeal filed by her against
the order of the Metropolitan Magistrate dated 11th May, 2009.
is no dispute that marriage between the parties was solemnized on 23rd August,
1980 and till 4th July, 2005, they lived together. Thereafter, for whatever reason,
there were misunderstandings between the parties, as a result whereof, on 29th November,
2006, the Respondent filed a petition before the Magistrate under Section 12 of
the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, hereinafter referred to
as the "PWD Act", seeking various reliefs.
By his order dated 8th
December, 2006, the learned Magistrate granted interim relief to the Respondent
and directed the Petitioner to pay her a sum of Rs.6,000/- per month. By a subsequent
order dated 17th February, 2007, the Magistrate passed a protection/residence order
under Sections 18 and 19 of the above Act, protecting the right of the Respondent
wife to reside in her matrimonial home in Mathura. The said order was challenged
before the Delhi High Court, but such challenge was rejected.
the meantime, the Petitioner, who was a member of the Armed Forces, retired
from service on 6th December, 2007, and on 26th February, 2008, he filed an application
for the Respondent's eviction from the Government accommodation in Mathura Cantonment.
The learned Magistrate directed the Petitioner herein to find an alternative accommodation
for the Respondent who had in the meantime received an eviction notice requiring
her to vacate the official accommodation occupied by her.
By an order dated
11th May, 2009, the learned Magistrate directed the Petitioner to let the Respondent
live on the 1st Floor of House No.D-279, Nirman Vihar, New Delhi, which she claimed
to be her permanent matrimonial home. The learned Magistrate directed that if this
was not possible, a reasonable accommodation in the vicinity of Nirman Vihar was
to be made available to the Respondent wife. She further directed that if the second
option was also not possible, the Petitioner would be required to pay a sum of Rs.10,000/-
per month to the Respondent as rental charges, so that she could find a house
of her choice.
dissatisfied with the order passed by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate, the Respondent
preferred an appeal, which came to be dismissed on 18th September, 2009, by the
learned Additional Sessions Judge, who was of the view that since the Respondent
had left the matrimonial home on 4th July, 2005, and the Act came into force on
26th October, 2006, the claim of a woman living in domestic relationship or living
together prior to 26th October, 2006, was not maintainable. The learned Additional
Sessions Judge was of the view that since the cause of action arose prior to coming
into force of the PWD Act; the Court could not adjudicate upon the merits of the
the Delhi High Court, the only question which came up for determination was whether
the petition under the provisions of the PWD Act, 2005, was maintainable by a woman,
who was no longer residing with her husband or who was allegedly subjected to any
act of domestic violence prior to the coming into force of the PWD Act on 26th October,
2006. After considering the constitutional safeguards under Article 21 of the Constitution,
vis-vis, the provisions of Sections 31 and 33 of the PWD Act, 2005, and after examining
the statement of objects and reasons for the enactment of the PWD Act, 2005, the
learned Judge held that it was with the view of protecting the rights of women under
Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution that the Parliament enacted the PWD Act,
2005, in order to provide for some effective protection of rights guaranteed under
the Constitution to women, who are victims of any kind of violence occurring
within the family and matters connected therewith and incidental thereto, and to
provide an efficient and expeditious civil remedy to them.
The learned Judge
accordingly held that a petition under the provisions of the PWD Act, 2005, is maintainable
even if the acts of domestic violence had been committed prior to the coming into
force of the said Act, notwithstanding the fact that in the past she had lived together
with her husband in a shared household, but was no more living with him, at the
time when the Act came into force. The learned Judge, accordingly, set aside the
order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge and directed him to consider the appeal
filed by the Respondent wife on merits.
indicated hereinbefore, the Special Leave Petition is directed against the said
order dated 22nd March, 2010, passed by the Delhi High Court and the findings
the pendency of the Special Leave Petition, on 15th September, 2011, the Petitioner
appearing in-person submitted that the disputes between him and the Respondent had
been resolved and the parties had decided to file an application for withdrawal
of the Special Leave Petition. The matter was, thereafter, referred to the Supreme
Court Mediation Centre and during the mediation, a mutual settlement signed by both
the parties was prepared so that the same could be filed in the Court for appropriate
orders to be passed thereupon.
However, despite the said
settlement, which was mutually arrived at by the parties, on 17th January, 2011,
when the matter was listed for orders to be passed on the settlement arrived at
between the parties, an application filed by the Petitioner was brought to the notice
of the Court praying that the settlement arrived at between the parties be annulled.
Thereafter, the matter
was listed in-camera in Chambers and we had occasion to interact with the
parties in order to ascertain the reason for change of heart. We found that while
the wife was wanting to rejoin her husband's company, the husband was reluctant
to accept the same. For reasons best known to the Petitioner, he insisted that the
mutual settlement be annulled as he was not prepared to take back the
Respondent to live with him.
attitude displayed by the Petitioner has once again thrown open the decision of
the High Court for consideration. We agree with the view expressed by the High
Court that in looking into a complaint under Section 12 of the PWD Act, 2005, the
conduct of the parties even prior to the coming into force of the PWD Act, could
be taken into consideration while passing an order under Sections 18, 19 and 20
thereof. In our view, the Delhi High Court has also rightly held that even if a
wife, who had shared a household in the past, but was no longer doing so when
the Act came into force, would still be entitled to the protection of the PWD
facts it may be noticed that the couple has no children. Incidentally, the Respondent
wife is at present residing with her old parents, after she had to vacate the matrimonial
home, which she had shared with the Petitioner at Mathura, being his official residence,
while in service. After more than 31 years of marriage, the Respondent wife having
no children, is faced with the prospect of living alone at the advanced age of 63
years, without any proper shelter or protection and without any means of
sustenance except for a sum of 10Rs.6,000/- which the Petitioner was directed
by the Magistrate by order dated 8th December, 2006, to give to the Respondent
By a subsequent order
dated 17th February, 2007, the Magistrate also passed a protection-cum-residence
order under Sections 18 and 19 of the PWD Act, protecting the rights of the Respondent
wife to reside in her matrimonial home in Mathura. Thereafter, on the Petitioner's
retirement from service, the Respondent was compelled to vacate the accommodation
in Mathura and a direction was given by the Magistrate to the Petitioner to let
the Respondent live on the 1st Floor of House No.D-279, Nirman Vihar, New Delhi,
and if that was not possible, to provide a sum of Rs.10,000/- per month to the Respondent
towards rental charges for acquiring an accommodation of her choice.
our view, the situation comes squarely within the ambit of Section 3 of the PWD
Act, 2005, which defines "domestic violence" in wide terms, and, accordingly,
no interference is called for with the impugned order of the High Court. However,
considering the fact that the couple is childless and the Respondent has herself
expressed apprehension of her safety if she were to live alone in a rented
accommodation, we are of the view that keeping in mind the object of the Act to
provide effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution,
who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family, the order
of the High Court requires to be modified.
We, therefore, modify
the order passed by the High Court and direct that the Respondent be provided with
a right of residence where the Petitioner is residing, by way of relief under Section
19 of the PWD Act, and we also pass protection orders under Section 18 thereof.
As far as any monetary relief is concerned, the same has already been provided
by the learned Magistrate and 12in terms of the said order, the Respondent is receiving
a sum of Rs.6,000/- per month towards her expenses.
in terms of Section 19 of the PWD Act, 2005, we direct the Petitioner to provide
a suitable portion of his residence to the Respondent for her residence, together
with all necessary amenities to make such residential premises properly habitable
for the Respondent, within 29th February, 2012. The said portion of the premises
will be properly furnished according to the choice of the Respondent to enable
her to live in dignity in the shared household.
Consequently, the sum
of Rs.10,000/- directed to be paid to the Respondent for obtaining alternative accommodation
in the event the Petitioner was reluctant to live in the same house with the
Respondent, shall stand reduced from Rs.10,000/- to Rs.4,000/-, which will be paid
to the Respondent in addition to the sum of Rs.6,000/- directed to be paid to her
towards her maintenance. In other words, in addition to providing the residential
accommodation to the Respondent, the Petitioner shall also pay a total sum of Rs.10,000/-
per month to the Respondent towards her maintenance and day-to-day expenses.
the event, the aforesaid arrangement does not work, the parties will be at liberty
to apply to this Court for further directions and orders. The Special Leave Petition
is disposed of accordingly.
shall, however, be no order as to costs.