Wife Leaving Husband’s House Before Divorce Loses Right to Stay There: Bombay HC

A woman who leaves her husband’s house pending divorce loses the right to later seek the ‘right of residence’ in the same house, even if her plea against the divorce is pending under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the Bombay High Court in Aurangabad has ruled.

A bench of Justice Sandipkumar C More, upholding the woman’s plea in this case, overturned the order of a lower court granting her full right of residence along with the use of bath, toilet, electricity, etc. in their House .

Umakant H. Bondre and his wife Shobha, both from Udgir, Latur, had filed the plea against the February 2018 injunction by the judge of the Udgir Court, which granted the right of residence to their former daughter-in-law Sakshi Bondre – who had granted divorce from her husband, Suraj Bondre.

The couple married in June 2015, but a year later after a disagreement, she left the house and went to live with her parents.

Later, in November 2017, an Udgir magistrate had awarded her an interim alimony of Rs 2,000 per month and additional Rs 1,500 per month to enable her to arrange alternative housing.

In their plea, the senior Bondre couple had questioned the lower court orders, especially since the house was in the name of Umakant H. Bondre (father-in-law) and Sakshi Bondre’s plea against the divorce – awarded in July 2018 – was pending before the high Council.

Justice More ruled that under Sec. 17 of the DV Act, the right of residence is only allowed if the woman continues to live in the shared household (spouse) before the divorce.

Sakshi Bondre was therefore unable to invoke the previous residence permit when her marriage was dissolved by a divorce judgment handed down by the competent court, and especially not when she had already left her joint household four years ago.

“Given the circumstances, she is not even entitled to suspension of expropriation, as she does not own the shared household,” the judge noted.

Sakshi Bondre’s lawyers had argued that the divorce judgment was challenged in an appeal she filed on the grounds that it was obtained through fraud, and the plea is pending in court.

Justice More dismissed her claims, noting that Sakshi Bondre had left her marital home much before the divorce and had not presented any evidence to indicate that it had been forcibly evicted by her husband or in-laws.

Therefore, the pending appeal would not stand in the way of her in-laws’ requests to challenge the lower courts granting her the right of residence, Justice More ruled.

However, the court has allowed Sakshi Bondre to seek alternative remedies from her ex-husband to claim rent for a rental property rather than move into his residence.

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