The Supreme Court of India recently clarified that one does not cease to be an “aggrieved person” because of the decree of judicial separation under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (“Act”).
The Court said, “…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. Thus understood, the finding recorded by the courts below which have been concurred by the High Court that the parties having been judicial separated, the appellant wife has ceased to be an “aggrieved person” is wholly unsustainable.”
The Court also opined that as long as the status of the aggrieved person remains and stridhan remains in the custody of the husband, the wife can always put forth her claim under Section 12 of the Act. “The concept of “continuing offence” gets attracted from the date of deprivation of stridhan, for neither the husband nor any other family members can have any right over the stridhan and they remain the custodians”, the Court observed.