The Gujarat High Court has ruled that a daughter-in-law who lived with the in-laws in their home for a brief period during the Covid pandemic can’t be kicked out after she filed a complaint against them under the Domestic Violence Act. The court also ruled that by merely offering an alternative accommodation, she cannot be kept from her right to stay in the shared household.

The court was hearing a petition filed by father-in-left law Suresh (name changed), challenging an order issued by the city Family Court that refused his application to refrain Neesha (his daughter-in-law) from living in the house owned by him.

As per the petition, his son Nitin (name changed) married Neesha on March 2, 2017. It was the second marriage of both Nitin and Neesha. From their previous marriages, she had a daughter while he had a son.

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The couple started living in the house owned by Suresh after their marriage. Just 10 days later, Nitin returned to the USA, his adopted country. The same day, Neesha too left the house and started residing in her own property.

In Nitin’s absence, Neesha never returned to her father-in-law’s house. In March 2020, Nitin, who was in India for a visit, could not return to the US due to the pandemic. The couple stayed with Suresh in his house till June when Nitin left the country. Neesha too went back to her house.

The petition claimed in September 2020 Neesha forcefully barged into Suresh’s house with some people, including her lawyer, and created ruckus. Later, Suresh filed an application at the local police station regarding the incident and also filed a suit in the Family Court to restrain Neesha from staying in his property. When his plea was not entertained, he approached the high court. The HC sued an order in favour of Neesha citing her right to live in the shared household under the Domestic Violence Act. In its order, the court observed, It is abundantly clear that a shared household’ includes the place where an aggrieved person has lived at any point of time, either singly or with her husband, irrespective of the title or ownership of the property.

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