What is the Effect of Senior Citizen Act on Right of Residence of Woman? SC

Recently, the Supreme Court has clarified that Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act will not have any overriding effect over the right of residence of a woman in a household which is shared within the meaning of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

The Court observed that the right of a woman to secure a residence order in respect of a shared household would not be defeated by securing an order of eviction under the Senior Citizens Act.

Background:

An application under provisions of the Senior Citizen Act was filed by a senior citizen couple praying that their daughter in law and granddaughter should be evicted from a residential house.

The impugned application was allowed by the Assistant Commissioner and was also upheld by the Deputy Commissioner.

When the daughter-in-law approached the Karnataka High Court, her petition was dismissed as well.

Before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the daughter in law argued that she could not be evicted from the shared household due to the protection provided by Section 17 of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

Reliance was placed on Satish Chandra Ahuja vs Sneha Ahuja, and it was contended that authorities under the Senior Citizens Act had no jurisdiction to order her eviction.

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Observations of the Supreme Court:

While referring to provisions of the Senior Citizen Act, the Bench observed that the tribunal under Senior Citizen Act might have the authority to order her eviction. Still, they should look into the necessary facts of the case and in the present case daughter in law’s eviction was sought.

Hon’ble Apex Court also noted that if there was a conflict between two special acts, then the Courts should analyze which act should prevail. In this regard the Bench made the following observations:

It was observed that if the Senior Citizens Act was allowed to have an overriding effect in all situations irrespective of a woman’s right to the shared household, then it would defeat the purpose of the PWDV Act. The main intention behind the Senior Citizens Act was to make sure that the elderly were not left destitute; however, the purpose of the PWDV Act also cannot be ignored.

It was further observed that the main intention behind the Senior Citizen Act was to provide a speedy remedy to senior citizens. Still, it cannot be allowed to override provisions of the PWDV Act where the intention is to protect the rights of a woman.

While referring to the instant case, the COurt observed that the tribunals should look into facts and circumstances of both protected groups and accordingly mould reliefs and should not be biased to just one side.

Order of the Court:-

The order passed by the Assistant Commissioner was set aside, and the Court further noted that proceedings under the PWDV Act cannot be instituted if proceedings under the Senior Citizens Act have begun. Still, it should not give rise to an occasion where a woman cannot pursue her right to a shared household.

Case Details:

Title: S Vanitha vs Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru & Ors

Case No.:Civil Appeal No. 3822 of 2020

Date of Order:15.12.2020

Coram: Hon’ble Justice DY Chandrachud, Hon’ble Justice Indu Malhotra and Hon’ble Justice Indira Banerjee

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