Wife Has the Right Over Streedhan Even After Judicial Separation: Supreme Court

The hon’ble Apex Court recently criticized the lower court as well as the High Court of Tripura for dismissing a petition filed by a woman claming ‘streedhan’ stating the reason that the woman did not have any right over the ‘streedhan’ after getting separated from her husband. The Supreme Court pointed out that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act grants protection to a woman from the atrocities in the matrimonial home and the duty of the court is to apply sensitive approach while dealing with such complaints. The Court made it clear that getting separated through the order of Court is unlike divorce and they live as husband and wife even though they are living separately. The couple lives as husband and wife under judicial separation till the end of their life and the woman has every right to seek protection under the Act during this time span, the Court said.

The bench stated that decree for divorce and the decree for judicial separation are different. In a decree for divorce, the status is severed and the parties cease to be husband and wife. But in the case of decree for judicial separation, the couple remains as husband and wife and the legal relationship does not come to an end, the Court added. Hence the Court concluded that the decision reached by the lower court and the High Court that wife is no more an aggrieved person as they were judicially separated is completely unsustainable.

In the instant case, the marriage between the lady and her husband was formalized in 2005. Subsequently after five years, the husband approached the court for judicial separation and the relief was granted. The wife approached the lower court claiming that the husband and his relatives are not willing to give back her jewellery and other valuable assets that were gifted by her parents and friends during marriage. But the trial court dismissed the petition and the order was upheld by the High Court. The Supreme Court quashed the order and said that the right of woman over streedhan is an inalienable right and the husband or his relatives does not have the right over such property.

Adv. Jewel Panicker