Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A duly married woman gets a statutory right to live in the shared household of her husband even if she does not live in the house, the Madras High Court ruled on Tuesday.

Justice V. Ramasubramanian, passing orders on a petition filed by a woman seeking to restrain her actor-husband and others from disturbing or interfering with her peaceful possession and enjoyment of her husband’s property, said: “It is not necessary for a woman to establish her physical act of living in the shared household, either at the time of institution of the (legal) proceedings or as a thing of the past. If there is a relationship which has legal sanction, a woman in that relationship gets a right to live in the shared household. Therefore, she would be entitled to protection under Section 17 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005…”

Though the marriage was solemnised in Andhra Pradesh in February 2007, the couple did not live together. After their formal ceremonial social wedding was called off, the bride entered her husband’s house. The husband, claiming it to be an act of trespass, filed a police complaint seeking her eviction. She filed the present petition to prevent her eviction.

Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian, holding that the woman certainly had a right to live in the shared household of her husband till the marriage was dissolved in a manner known to law, said, “Hence, her entry into the household is a matter of right.” The Judge said there were very many situations wherein a woman might not enter her matrimonial home immediately after marriage, and added, “One can think of innumerable instances where the woman might not live at the time of institution of the proceedings or might not have lived together with the husband even for a single day in the shared household.” In such circumstances, a narrow interpretation of the provisions “would leave many a woman in distress.” he said. Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said the woman had a statutory right, which should be protected by the court, and granted an injunction restraining others from disturbing her peaceful possession and enjoyment of her husband’s property.

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