Mother-in-Law to provide Alternate Residence and Compensation when she sold off the Matrimonial Home of Daughter-in-Law

By Lovisha Aggarwal | January 11, 2019


CASE: Shachi Mahajan v. Santosh Mahajan (dated 10-01-2019)


Husband left the matrimonial house without informing anyone. Because of alleged attempts of Mother-in-Law to remove the Daughter-in-Law from the Matrimonial House, on a petition filed by the Daughter-in-Law, protection order was passed on 07.11.2012, restraining the Mother-in-Law from dispossessing her from the shared household.

Subsequently as the electricity bill was not paid, electricity supply to the said property was disconnected in 2015 so the Daughter-in-Law was constrained to shift to her mother’s house. When the Daughter-in-Law got an order for restoration of the electricity, she could not enter the premises as the locks of the premises had been changed by the Mother-in-Law. 

A complaint under section 31 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was filed against the Mother-in-law. Mother-in-Law filed an application under Section 25 of the DV Act, seeking modification of the protection order. The Metropolitan Magistrate directed the Mother-in-Law to hand over the keys of the shared household to the Daughter-in-Law.

Mother-in-Law filed a Revision Petition before the High Court. 

The subject property was then sold to a third party by way of a registered Sale Deed dated 31.10.2018 by the Mother-in-Law. 


Pending the proceedings before the Trial Court, subject property now stands transferred to a third party by way of a registered sale deed. Neither the husband nor the Mother-in-Law have any surviving share in the subject property after the registration of the sale deed in favour of a third party.

Equities have to be balance i.e.

  • On the one hand the rights of third party i.e. the purchaser of the subject property has to be balanced vis-a-vis the rights that the Daughter-in-Law is seeking to enforce. 
  • On the one hand, Mother-in-Law is alleged to have sold the property for her bona fide needs and third party rights in the subject property have arisen and on the other hand, the Daughter- in-Law is deprived of her rights of residence in the subject property.

No doubt, the action of the Mother-in-Law in disposing of the property by way of a registered sale deed has caused loss to the Daughter-in-Law, however it may be seen that there was no order restraining the Mother-in-Law from selling or alienating the subject property and, as such, she cannot be penalised in terms of Section 31 of the Domestic Violence Act. However, the action of the Mother-in-Law in selling the subject property, though not strictly illegal, has caused loss to the Daughter- in-Law.


  • The claim is that her husband had a 1/3 rd share in the subject property. Accordingly, Mother-in-Law to deposit 1/6th of the sale proceeds (i.e. one half of 1/3rd) with the Trial Court for securing the rights, if any, determined in favour of the Daughter-in-Law and her minor son.
  • This direction is without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties and do not amount to expression of any opinion on the claim made by the Daughter-in-Law for herself and her minor son.
  • Daughter-in- Law was in possession of one room on the first floor, but was sharing the kitchen and common areas on the ground floor.  Since the subject property is now not available, the only order that can be passed in favour of the Daughter-in-Law for securing her residence is to direct the Mother-in- Law to ensure that either a ground floor or a first floor is obtained on rent for the residence of the Daughter-in-Law in the same locality in a similar property.
  • All formalities for taking on rent the said floor shall be undertaken by the Mother-in-Law. She shall be liable to pay the rental as well as the security deposit for such property.
  • Mother-in-Law shall keep a security deposit, equivalent to 12 months rental, with the Trial court at all points of time.
  • This exercise of obtaining the premises on rent shall be completed within a period of 4 weeks from the date of the Order.
  • Since the action of the Mother-in-Law has also resulted in removal of a property from the control of the Daughter-in-Law, she has to be granted adequate, fair and reasonable compensation/monetary relief for the deprivation of said property.
  • Trial Court shall, within a period of three months, determine the monetary compensation, which would be paid by the Mother-in-Law to the Daughter-in-Law, in terms of Section 20(1)(c) and Section 20(2) of the Domestic Violence Act, for the period that the Daughter- in-Law was deprived of the use of the subject property till she is provided an alternative residence. Trial Court while ascertaining compensation shall decide on the allegation of the Mother-in-Law that the Daughter-in- Law had abandoned the subject property and its effect, if any.
  • In the meantime, Mother-in-Law shall pay an interim compensation to the Daughter-in-Law within a period of 2 weeks. The amount paid as an interim compensation would be subject to adjustment, on final adjudication by the Trial Court.


The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

Section 19(1)(f) 

While disposing of an application under sub-section (1) of section 12, the Magistrate may, on being satisfied that domestic violence has taken place, pass a residence order – 

(f) directing the respondent to secure same level of alternate accommodation for the aggrieved person as enjoyed by her in the shared household or to pay rent for the same, if the circumstances so require: 

Provided that no order under clause (b) shall be passed against any person who is a woman.

Section 20

Monetary reliefs.-

(1) While disposing of an application under sub-section (1) of section 12, the Magistrate may direct the respondent 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 the domestic violence and such relief may include, but not limited to,- 

(c) the loss caused due to the destruction, damage or removal of any property from the control of the aggrieved person; and 

(2) The monetary relief granted under this section shall be adequate, fair and reasonable and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person is accustomed. 

Section 25

(1) A protection order made under section 18 shall be in force till the aggrieved person applies for discharge. 

(2) If the Magistrate, on receipt of an application from the aggrieved person or the respondent, is satisfied that there is a change in the circumstances requiring alteration, modification or revocation of any order made under this Act, he may, for reasons to be recorded in writing pass such order, as he may deem appropriate. 

Section 31

Penalty for breach of protection order by respondent.–

(1) A breach of protection order, or of an interim protection order, by the respondent shall be an offence under this Act and shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to twenty thousand rupees, or with both.

(2) The offence under sub-section (1) shall as far as practicable be tried by the Magistrate who had passed the order, the breach of which has been alleged to have been caused by the accused.

(3) While framing charges under sub-section (1), the Magistrates may also frame charges under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or any other provision of that Code or the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961), as the case may be, if the facts disclose the commission of an offence under those provisions.

Read the complete judgement here