Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that aged parents can’t use the Senior Citizens Act to deny the rights of their daughter-in-law to a shared household. The court order is indeed a big respite to those women battling cases against hostile in-laws. Now, they can’t be forcefully evicted from their husband’s home.

The verdict follows a judgement by the apex court two months ago when SC noted that even though it is a joint family property and the husband has no legal share, the same shall be applied.

The present case brings two special laws against each other. While the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (PWDV) Act, 2005, seeks to offer protection to wives facing domestic violence, the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007, aims to provide a speedy and inexpensive remedy to elderly people to secure their interests.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee examined both the laws and came to the conclusion that Section 3 of the 2007 Act had an overriding effect over any other law. “Section 3 of the Senior Citizens Act, 2007 cannot be deployed to over-ride and nullify other protections in law particularly that of a woman’s right to a shared household under Section 17 of the PWDV Act 2005,” the bench said.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Chandrachud said, “The law protecting the interest of senior citizens is intended to ensure that they are not left destitute, or at the mercy of their children or relatives. Equally, the purpose of the PWDV Act 2005 cannot be ignored by a sleight of statutory interpretation. Both sets of legislations have to be harmoniously construed.”

The bench said that neither the husband nor in-laws can forcefully evict the daughter-in-law from the household for one year till she avails remedies under the PWDV Act.