Sunday, 26 May 2019

Whether Brother In Law Can Be Ordered To Pay Maintenance To Widow Under Domestic Violence Act?

The submission which has been urged on behalf of the
appellant is that there was no basis under the provisions of
the Act to fasten liability on the appellant, who is the
brother of the deceased spouse of the first respondent.
Learned counsel submitted that the sole basis on which
liability has been fastened is that the appellant and his
deceased brother carried on a joint business. It was urged that
this cannot furnish any lawful basis to direct the appellant to
meet the award of maintenance.

The expression “respondent” is defined in Section 2(q) as
follows:-
2(q) “respondent” means any adult male person
who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship
with the aggrieved person and against whom the
aggrieved person has sought any relief under
this Act:
Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living
in a relationship in the nature of a marriage
may also file a complaint against a relative of
the husband or the male partner;

13. That it is worthwhile to mention here
that after the marriage of Complainant No. 1,
both brother Sh. Vijay Kumar Jindal and Ajay
Kumar Jindal were running their joint

business of M/s. Ajay Kumar Vijay Kumar
Kiryana Store, at Jatal Road, Sanjay Chowk
Panipat, very smoothly and both brothers were
taking / deciding Rs. 30,000/- P.M. each, out
of the income of the said business, for the
maintenance of their respective families.
However after the death of Sh. Vijay Kumar,
the Respondent No. 2 has been running the
said business and the Complainants are
equally entitled to the amount which the
respondent No. 2 has been deducting from the
said joint business or at least Rs. 30,000/-
P.M. which the Complainant No. 1 has been
receiving during the life time of Sh. Vijay
Kumar Jindal.”
At the present stage, there are sufficient averments in
the complaint to sustain the order for the award of interim
maintenance. Paragraph 10 of the complaint prima facie
indicates that the case of the complainants is that the house
where the first respondent and her spouse resided, belong to a
joint family. The appellant and his brother (who was the
spouse of the first respondent and father of the second
respondent) carried on a joint business. The appellant resided
in the same household. Ultimately, whether the requirements of
Section 2(f); Section 2(q); and Section 2(s) are fulfilled is a
matter of evidence which will be adjudicated upon at the trial.
At this stage, for the purpose of an interim order for
maintenance, there was material which justifies the issuance of
a direction in regard to the payment of maintenance.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(S). 617 OF 2019

AJAY KUMAR  Vs  LATA @ SHARUTI 

Dated:APRIL 8, 2019.

Leave granted.
This appeal arises from a judgment of a learned Single
Judge of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana dated 10 October
2018. The High Court dismissed a petition against the judgment
of the Additional Sessions Judge, Panipat confirming an interim
order for the award of maintenance to the first respondent and
her minor child under the provisions of the Protection of Women
from Domestic Violence Act, 20051.
The first respondent was married to Vijay Kumar Jindal on
12 December 2010. They have two children.
1 “Act”

The first respondent filed a petition under Section 12 of
the Act inter alia for the purpose of seeking an award of
maintenance. The complaint contains a recital of the fact that
after her marriage, the complainant and her spouse resided at a
house which constitutes ancestral Hindu Joint Family Property.
She and her husband resided on the ground floor of the
residential accommodation. The appellant and the deceased
spouse of the first respondent jointly carried on a business of
a kiryana store at Panipat from which, it has been alleged,
each had an income of about Rs 30,000 per month.
The complaint alleges that at the death of Vijay Kumar,
the first respondent was pregnant and that she gave birth to a
child on 31 January 2013. The travails of the first respondent
are alleged to have commenced after the death of her spouse and
she was not permitted to reside in her matrimonial home.
The learned Trial Judge by an order dated 3 July 2015
granted monthly maintenance in the amount of Rs 4,000 to the
first respondent and Rs 2,000 to the second respondent. The
award of maintenance was directed against the appellant who was
carrying on the above business together with the deceased
spouse of the first respondent. This order of the Judicial
Magistrate, First Class, Panipat dated 3 July 2015 was
confirmed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Panipat on 14
August 2018. The High Court, in a petition filed by the
appellant, affirmed the view. Hence these proceedings came to
be instituted under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.

The submission which has been urged on behalf of the
appellant is that there was no basis under the provisions of
the Act to fasten liability on the appellant, who is the
brother of the deceased spouse of the first respondent.
Learned counsel submitted that the sole basis on which
liability has been fastened is that the appellant and his
deceased brother carried on a joint business. It was urged that
this cannot furnish any lawful basis to direct the appellant to
meet the award of maintenance.
On the other hand, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the respondents has relied upon the averments in the complaint
and submitted that at this stage, there is no reason or
justification for the Court to interfere under Article 136 of
the Constitution of India particularly against an interlocutory
order.
Section 12(1) provides that an aggrieved person may
present an application to the Magistrate seeking one or more
reliefs under the Act. Under the provisions of Section 20(1),
the Magistrate while dealing with an application under sub-
Section (1) of Section 12 is empowered to direct the
respondent(s) to pay monetary relief to meet the expenses
incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person and any
child of the aggrieved person as a result of domestic violence.
This may include but is not limited to an order for maintenance
of the aggrieved person as well as her children, if any,
including an order under or in addition to an order for
maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC or any other law for

the time being in force.
The expression “respondent” is defined in Section 2(q) as
follows:-
2(q) “respondent” means any adult male person
who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship
with the aggrieved person and against whom the
aggrieved person has sought any relief under
this Act:
Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living
in a relationship in the nature of a marriage
may also file a complaint against a relative of
the husband or the male partner;
The substantive part of Section 2(q) indicates that the
expression “respondent” means any adult male person who is, or
has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person
and against whom relief has been sought. The proviso indicates
that both, an aggrieved wife or a female living in a
relationship in the nature of marriage may also file a
complaint against a relative of the husband or the male
partner, as the case may be.
Section 2(f) defines the expression “domestic
relationship” thus:
2(f) “domestic relationship” means a
relationship between two persons who live or
have, at any point of time, lived together in a
shared household, when they are related by
consanguinity, marriage, or through a
relationship in the nature of marriage,
adoption or are family members living together
as a joint family;
Section 2(f) defines the expression ‘domestic relationship’ to
mean a relationship where two persons live or have lived

together at any point of time in a shared household when they
are related by consanguinity, marriage or through a
relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are members
living together as a joint family.
The expression “shared household” is defined in Section
2(s) as follows:-
2(s) “shared household” means a household where
the person aggrieved lives or at any stage has
lived in a domestic relationship either singly or
along with the respondent and includes such a
house hold whether owned or tenanted either
jointly by the aggrieved person and the
respondent, or owned or tenanted by either of
them in respect of which either the aggrieved
person or the respondent or both jointly or
singly have any right, title, interest or equity
and includes such a household which may belong to
the joint family of which the respondent is a
member, irrespective of whether the respondent or
the aggrieved person has any right, title or
interest in the shared household;
All these definitions indicate the width and amplitude of
the intent of Parliament in creating both an obligation and a
remedy in the terms of the enactment.
In the present case, at this stage, it would be
sufficient to advert to the contents of paragraph 10 of the
complaint which read as follows:-
“10. That the marriage between the
Complainant No. 1 and Sh. Vijay Kumar Jindal
was settled through Sh. Narender Jain S/o.
Late Sh. Rameshwar Dass R/o Haryana School-
Wali-Gali, VIII, Inder Garhi, Tehsil Gohana,
Distt. Sonepat, and before marriage he

(Mediator namely Sh. Narender Jain) told that
previously there was a residential house
situated near Railway Fathak, Jatal Road,
Panipat, which was constructed by Sh. Mai
Dhan (Grandfather of Sh. Vijay Kumar Jindal
and Respondent No. 2) and after the death of
said Sh. Mai Dhan, his son Sh. Brahmanand
Jindal (Father of Sh. Vijay Kumar Jindal and
Respondent No. 2) became the owner in
possession of the said house and later on Sh.
Brahmanand Jindal, sold away the said house
and purchased H No. 149, Eight Marla Colony,
Kranti Nagar, Near Radha Krishna Mandir,
Panipat in the name of his wife Smt. Rajo
Devi (Respondent No. 1) about 8 years ago.
Thus the said house i.e. H No. 149, Eight
Marla Colony, Kranti Nagar, Near Radha
Krishna Mandir, Panipat is ancestral Joint
Hindu Family property / residential house
standing in the name of Respondent No. 1 qua
the present complainants.”
In paragraph 12 and 13, it has been averred as follows:-
“12. That after marriage between the
Complainant No. 1 and Sh. Vijay Kumar Jindal,
the Respondents provided the ground floor of
H No. 149, Eight Marla Colony, Kranti Nagar,
Near Radha Krishna Mandir, Panipat to the
newly wedded couple (i.e. Complainant No. 1
and Sh. Vijay Kumar Jindal) and they kept all
dowry articles, house hold articles etc.
mentioned above in the said residential
accommodation (ground floor of said house)
and she (i.e. Complainant No. 1) also
consummated her marriage with her husband in
the Ground floor of said house and Kirti
Jindal (Complainant No. 2) was born out of
the said wedlock. It is pertinent to
mention here that all dowry articles,
istridhan, household articles, furniture etc.
etc. are still kept in said house /
matrimonial house of Complainant No. 1 and
the golden ornaments and jewelry etc., all
are yet in possession of the Respondents.
13. That it is worthwhile to mention here
that after the marriage of Complainant No. 1,
both brother Sh. Vijay Kumar Jindal and Ajay
Kumar Jindal were running their joint

business of M/s. Ajay Kumar Vijay Kumar
Kiryana Store, at Jatal Road, Sanjay Chowk
Panipat, very smoothly and both brothers were
taking / deciding Rs. 30,000/- P.M. each, out
of the income of the said business, for the
maintenance of their respective families.
However after the death of Sh. Vijay Kumar,
the Respondent No. 2 has been running the
said business and the Complainants are
equally entitled to the amount which the
respondent No. 2 has been deducting from the
said joint business or at least Rs. 30,000/-
P.M. which the Complainant No. 1 has been
receiving during the life time of Sh. Vijay
Kumar Jindal.”
At the present stage, there are sufficient averments in
the complaint to sustain the order for the award of interim
maintenance. Paragraph 10 of the complaint prima facie
indicates that the case of the complainants is that the house
where the first respondent and her spouse resided, belong to a
joint family. The appellant and his brother (who was the
spouse of the first respondent and father of the second
respondent) carried on a joint business. The appellant resided
in the same household. Ultimately, whether the requirements of
Section 2(f); Section 2(q); and Section 2(s) are fulfilled is a
matter of evidence which will be adjudicated upon at the trial.
At this stage, for the purpose of an interim order for
maintenance, there was material which justifies the issuance of
a direction in regard to the payment of maintenance.
However, we clarify that the present order as well as
orders which have been passed by the courts below shall not
come in the way of a final adjudication on the merits of the
complaint in accordance with law.

The arrears shall be paid over within a period of four
months from today by equal monthly installments.
The Appeal is, accordingly, disposed of.
Pending application(s), if any, shall also stand disposed
of.
...............................J.
(DR. DHANANJAYA Y. CHANDRACHUD)
...............................J.
(HEMANT GUPTA)
NEW DELHI
APRIL 8, 2019

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