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Tuesday, Oct 20, 2020 13:00 [IST]

Last Update: Tuesday, Oct 20, 2020 07:27 [IST]

A beacon of hope

Two months ago, the Supreme Court had ruled that women’s parental property rights are by birth, saying ‘once a daughter, always a daughter’. Now it has passed another landmark judgement that aims to ensure the rights of women.

The country’s apex court on Thursday clarified that a woman is entitled to claim her right to residence in a “shared household" where she has been living with her husband even if the said premises belong to his relatives. The Supreme Court said that an estranged woman can’t be evicted by her husband or his family under the ‘Domestic Violence Act’ (2005). She has the right to reside in her husband’s family home even if it was rented or owned by the in-laws and the husband had no ownership in it, said the 3-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah.

This is a welcome judgment, though should ideally have come earlier. In a 2005 case, a woman was unable to claim any legal right to live in a house owned by her mother-in-law.

The apex court, while passing the judgment, also said that the progress of any society depends on its ability to protect and promote the rights of its women. The bench also noted, “The domestic violence in this country is rampant and several women encounter violence in some form or the other or almost every day, however, it is the least reported form of cruel behaviour. A woman resigns her fate to the never ending cycle of enduring violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner or a single woman in her lifetime.”

This has to be read in light of the huge number of domestic violence cases the nation has seen. According to data released earlier by the National Family Health Survey, around 30% of Indian women have faced physical, emotional or sexual abuse by their husbands. During the lockdown, this spiked—touching a 10-year high of 31, 1,477 complaints of domestic violence (between March and May 2020). This number does not reflect the actual situation, as it’s estimated that over 86% of victims choose not to seek help, and so the crime goes reported.

Women do not find it easy to obtain justice in such cases. One of their top concerns has always been “where do I go, where will I live?" The current judgment therefore offers a beacon of hope to victims of domestic violence. They can file charges without worrying about a roof over their heads.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi