Rajani Somkuwar Vs Sarita Somkuwar & Anr. WP-LD-VC-20 OF 2020 Bombay HC
Before going into the details of this case we must understand what Section 4 of the Maintenance & Welfare of parents & Senior Citizen Act says.
Section 4 of the Maintenance & Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007:
Section 4(1): A senior citizen including parent who is unable to maintain himself from his own earning or out of the property owned by him, can make an application under section 5 (application for maintenance) in case of:
(i) If he is a parent or grand-parent then can make an application of maintenace against one or more of his children (not minor);
(ii) a childless senior citizen, against such of his relative.
Section 4(2): The obligation of the children or relative extends so that senior citizen may lead a normal life. (Obligation towards senior citizen)
Section 4(3): The obligation of the children to maintain his or her parent extends so that such parent may lead a normal life. (Obligation is of only children towards Parents)
Section 4(4): Relative shall maintain senior citizen who is in possession of property of Senior Citizen or who will inherit property towards senior citizen. (If relatives are more then one then and entitled to inherit the property of a senior citizen, the maintenance shall be payable by such relative in the proportion in which they would inherit his property.)
1. The Petitioner is 70 years of age and is an ex-government employee. Respondent (Sarita) is one of the fve daughters of the Petitioner. The Husband of Petitioner and Father of Respondent passed away in 2011.
According to Petioner:
2. Petitioner alleged that she was mentally as well as physically tortured by her daughter. Respondent who is a divorcee and is forcefully residing along with her 19 year old son in the Petitioner’s flat.
3. Sarita since a teenager was indulging in wrongful acts and had friends with a criminal background. Also, Sarita never paid any heed to their advice and was always rebellious. In the year 1998, Sarita absconded with her male friend and married him later. From the year 2000, the Petitioner and her husband, along with their then unmarried daughters started residing in the said Flat. However, in july2000 Sarita’s husband absconded and therefore she started living in the Petitioner’s flat.
4. In the year 2018 Sarita left her job, and thereafter with every passing day the scenario worsened and the ill-treatment and harassment meted out to the Petitioner by Sarita aggravated. Sarita started keeping the Petitioner under house arrest and did not allow her to meet anyone, broke the cell phone and took Petitioner’s accounts and fnances.
5. On 3rd August, 2018, the Petitioner got an opportunity to move out of the said Flat, but unfortunately she got hit by an auto rickshaw while crossing the road. She was taken to the nearby hospital.
6. Finally in February, 2020, Vaishali (Petitioner’s another daughter) came to India and on visiting the Petitioner, was shocked to see her condition. The Petitioner narrated all the misdeeds of Sarita, i.e. how Sarita would beat her up, make her remain without clothes and give her food only once a day and snatch away her plate whilst the Petitioner was still eating. The Petitioner later with the help of Vaishali fled an FIR against Sarita.
7. After undergoing several tests, it was confrmed that She lived with a fractured shoulder and broken nerves for almost fve months under house arrest by the Respondent, without even plaster or support, leave aside proper medication.
8. Thereafter the Petitioner fled an Application under Section 4 of the Act before Sub Divisional Officer, Maintenance Tribunal for Parents and Senior Citizens, seeking eviction of Sarita from the said Flat, so that the Petitioner could live the rest of her life peacefully. However, due to no fault on the part of the Petitioner and subsequent nationwide lockdown imposed by the Government, the Petitioner was not in a position to get her Application decided. Therefore, the petitioner approached the Bombay High Court seeking urgent reliefs including direction to Sarita to leave the said Flat.
After talking (on video conferencing) to the Petitioner, the court got an impression that Petitioner is seriously apprehends physical and mental harassment and consequently threat to her life at the hands of Sarita, if she goes to reside in her own Flat without Sarita being evicted from the same. However, in view of the pandemic and the consequent problems that individuals are facing, the court did not passed an eviction order.
The divisional bench said that “If the children cannot take care of their parent/s and allow them to live in peace, they atleast ought not to make their life a living hell”.
Order by the Bombay HC:
i. The Court gave warning to the Respondent and her son that if this Court on receiving any complaint from the Petitioner of harassment by either or both of them, then the court will pass an orders including an order restraining them from entering the said Flat.
ii. The Court directed the police to give all assistance, at any point of time to the Petitioner, as and when she needs the same.
iii. Sarita, as well as her son, will not obstruct entry of any of the relatives of the Petitioner. However, Sarita and / or her son shall not bring any of their guests / relatives in the said Flat, without obtaining prior permission of the Petitioner through her Advocate.
iv. Both the parties granted liberty to install CCTV Camera in the common areas / rooms.