Alternate accommodation under the domestic violence act

Question asked on: 30/01/2019

My wife wants alternate accommodation because she does not like to live with me. She filed a complaint under section 12 of the domestic violence act and claimed residence order along with protection order. She has lived in my house only for two years, during her stay in the matrimonial home she always created chaos on petty issues. She has ruined my life, and now I want to get rid of her. The court is likely to pass temporary accommodation order so what should I do?

Advised by: Shivendra Pratap Singh,

She has right to claim alternate accommodation if you refuse to give her separate residence in the shared household. Wife has the primary right to reside in a shared house. Hence, the husband cannot scuttle her right merely by refusing. In such condition, the court can direct you to provide alternative accommodation or pay rent for the same.

Section 19 (1) (f) of the Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) confers right upon the wife to claim alternate accommodation. More importantly, she cannot request it as a matter of right. If violence erupted in a shared household which likely to cause danger to her life, then she can seek relief of residence order, and alternate accommodation is the intrinsic part of that relief.

When the Court may pass the order of Alternate Accommodation 

The court can pass an order of alternate accommodation if the husband or his relatives commit violence and refuses to provide separate shelter in a shared household [Shalini v. Kishor, (2015) 11 SCC 718]. It is not an absolute right. Therefore, she cannot claim alternate accommodation primarily. The court may pass such order only in the conditions mentioned above.

Domestic violence act is protective legislation, enacted to protect the woman from domestic violence as well as protect her right to residence in the marital home. Meanwhile, the court does not pass a general order. Instead of it the court examines the facts of the case and decides whether alternate accommodation is the last resort to secure peaceful abode for the wife?

Shared Household

If yes, then the court passes an order for alternate accommodation. This right is available exclusively against the shared household. The shared home does not include house belonging to her in-laws [A. R. Hashir v Shima AIR 2016 Ker.]. In S.R. Batra v. Taruna Batra (2007) 3 SCC 169; the Supreme Court has explained the scope of the shared household as:

The property (shared home) which neither belongs to the husband nor is taken on rent by him, nor is it a joint family property in which the husband is a member, does not regard as a “shared household.

Since you admit that she has spent only two years in her matrimonial home, it infers that she has resided in this house since her date of marriage.

If the husband has no other residence except the house of his father or mother and wife resided in the house immediately after marriage in the capacity of daughter-in-law then house treated as shared household [Anand v Vinita 2016 (1) RCR]. 

Consequently, in these circumstances, you are bound to provide alternate accommodation because the facts and circumstances of the case are supporting her claim. 

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Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate, Lucknow

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