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Wife entitled to stridhan even after judicial separation on under the Domestic Violence Act

New Delhi: In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court on Friday held that a wife is entitled for “stridhan” from her husband under the Domestic Violence Act even if she has obtained judicial separation but not got the decree of divorce.

Supreme Court

“It is quite clear that there is a distinction between a decree for divorce and decree of judicial separation; in the former, there is a severance of status and the parties do not remain as husband and wife, whereas in the later, the relationship between husband and wife continues and the legal relationship continues as it has not been snapped,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said and set aside Arunachal High Court’s judgment against a woman.

The woman was denied the relief on the ground she could not be called an aggrieved person as she had filed an application seeking the seizure of stridhan after she had got judicial separation.

The court said though judicial separation after a certain period may become a ground for divorce, it is not necessary and the parties are not bound to have recourse to that remedy and the parties can live keeping their status as wife and husband till their lifetime.

Expressing displeasure over the subordinate courts, the bench also observed that “we have stated about the need of sensitive approach to these kinds of cases. There can be erroneous perception of law, but as we find neither the learned magistrate nor the appellate court nor the High Court has made any effort to understand and appreciate the stand of the appellant.

“Such type of cases and at such stage should not travel to this Court. We are compelled to say so as we are of the considered opinion that had the appellate court and the High Court been more vigilant, in all possibility, there could have been adjudication on merits.”

The court also held that to protect rights guaranteed under the Constitution to women, who are victims of any kind of violence occurring within the family and matters connected therewith and incidental thereto, a petition under the provisions of the 2005 Act is maintainable even if the acts of domestic violence had been committed prior to the coming into force of the said Act.