New Delhi: Pronouncing a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has widened the ambit of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The Apex Court has ruled that a wife who is separated from her husband prior to the enforcement of the law will be a beneficiary and will retain the right to share the residence of her husband. The women living separately even prior to the law came into existence, will be allowed to claim her rights to live in the house owned by her husband.  Naturally the fresh observation of the court will bring respite to the thousands of women who are victim of domestic violence in the country.
The court pronounced the decision while hearing a petition filed by a retired army officer VD Bhanot. Upholding the order of the Delhi High Court, a bench of the Apex Court comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and J. Chelameswar observed that while hearing a complaint under section 12 of Domestic Violence Act (prevention), 2005, the behavior of the concerned parties prior to the enactment of the law could also be taken into account. It can happen during hearing of a case for giving respite and protection to a woman who is a victim according to the sections 18, 19 and 20 of the law. 

Agreeing with the order of the High Court, the Apex Court observed, “The Delhi High Court has rightly said that a wife who lived with her husband before the law came into force but got separated after the law was enforced, will be entitled to the right to share her husband’s house under the law.”

The Apex Court has directed the husband, Bhanot, to provide accommodation to his wife on the first floor of his house. Also, the house must be in accordance with the liking and convenience of the wife and furnished with the basic amenities so that she can live there with dignity.

The court has instructed the husband to abide by the ruling by February 29 and also to pay a sum of Rs 10,000 per month to his wife for her other expenses. The Bhanot couple was married in 1980 and they lived together until 2005 when they started living separately after a decline in their relationship.