Parents-in-law can’t be forced to maintain daughter-in-law: SC
Posted by 498A_Crusader on March 17, 2008
New Delhi: The latest round of `Saas-Bahu ki ladai’ has gone decisively in favour of the motherin-law. The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman, if neglected by her husband, cannot eye her
mother-in-law’s property for getting maintenance.
Maintenance of a married woman is her husband’s personal obligation and the property in her mother-in-law’s name can never be the subject matter of the obligation to maintain a daughter-in-law even after the death of her husband, said a Bench comprising Justices S B Sinha and V S Sirpurkar.
A woman lawyer, who had filed several cases against her parents-in-law in Chincholi, Karnataka, had even taken recourse to litigation to see that their property was auctioned for getting the maintenance she was entitled to from their son.
Disapproving the extra-legal arguments taken by her and deprecating the trial court and the Karnataka High Court overstretching the law as well as their jurisdiction to go by her
pleadings, the Bench said a woman could seek attachment of properties only if her husband had a share in it.
This means, if the parents-inlaw’s properties were self-acquired and not inherited, then their daughter-in-law could institute suits seeking attachment of those properties which stood in the name of her husband and not against those owned by his parents.
Referring to the plea of the daughter-in-law, Sonalben, the Bench said she might be entitled to maintenance from her husband and the decree in her suit could only be against his properties.
“The decree, if any, must be executed against her husband and only his properties could be attached for that but not of her mother-in-law,” said Justice Sinha, writing the judgment for the
Bench. Referring to the HC order, which was challenged by mother-in-law Vimlaben, the apex court said it suffered from “total non-application of mind” and was “wholly unsustainable”.
“The said orders might have been passed only on consideration that Sonalben is a harassed lady, but the fact that Vimlaben is also a much harassed lady was lost sight of (by the HC),” the Bench said.
Directing release of the attached properties to Vimlaben, the court directed Sonalben to give Rs 50,000 to her mother-in-law as cost of litigation.
As a general guideline to the trial courts, the Bench said: “Sympathy or sentiment, as is well known, should not allow the court to have any effect in its decision-making process. Sympathy or
sentiment can be invoked only in favour of a person who is entitled to it. It should never be taken into consideration as a result whereof the other side would suffer civil or evil consequences.”
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