Apex Court comes to rescue of 84-yr-old city horticulturist

Rejects plea of woman for right of residence in his house
Last Updated 18 July 2017, 20:57 IST
The Supreme Court came to rescue of 84-year-old horticulturalist Manmohan Attavar by rejecting the plea of a woman for the right of residence at his house in Jayanagar in Bengaluru. The woman claimed to have married him.

The top court did not agree to the contention of the woman made under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, by holding that she had never lived with him in the particular house. Attavar had denied any relationship with her.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul held that the “domestic relationship” as defined under Section 2 (f) of the DV Act referred to two persons who have lived together in a “shared household”. Notably, the social legislation created an entitlement in favour of the woman of the right of residence under the “shared household” irrespective of her having any legal interests in the same.

“It is not the case that the woman has been thrown out by Attavar in an alleged relationship which goes back 20 years. They fell apart admittedly more than seven years ago,” the bench said.

Neelam Manmohan Attavar (62), who worked with Indian Council for Agriculture Research, claimed to have entered into a relationship with Attavar after their introduction in 1987.

She claimed Attavar, even during subsistence of his marriage, applied “kumkum” on her forehead in 1998. The woman further contended she had accompanied him during the felicitation ceremony after he was conferred the Padma Shri Award in the same year. Subsequently, she claimed to have visited the Bengaluru house of Attavar, when his wife was alive.

After the death of Attavar's wife in 2010, the woman sought right of residence, saying she had been left high and dry. During the period, she claimed to have enjoyed her stay with Attavar at different places hired by him. However, their relationship turned sour, forcing her to resort to legal remedy.

Allowing an appeal filed by Attavar through advocates Balaji Srinivasan and Anil Shetty, the apex court held the Karnataka High Court's order of September 19, last, passed ex-parte, cannot be sustained in law.

The court concurred with the submission of senior advocate B H Maralapalle, representing Attavar, by saying, “He is a Christian and thus there could be no question of visiting any temple and marrying the respondent by applying ‘kumkum’, and that too when the wife of the appellant was alive.”

The apex court, however, directed the Karnataka High Court to designate a sessions judge in Bengaluru to hear expeditiously the woman's appeal against the magisterial court's order.

(Published 18 July 2017, 20:56 IST)

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