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India. Court ruling granting a housewife an equal share of her husband’s property

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The Madras High Court in the southern state of Tamil Nadu has ruled in a domestic dispute that allowed a housewife to receive an equal share of her husband’s property. He also considered that the housework that the woman did indirectly contributed to earning money, which enabled the purchase of real estate, and that her work allowed her husband to earn money, the BBC reported. Experts say this is the first time an Indian court has formally recognized a housewife’s contribution to her husband’s income.

21st June Supreme Court in Madras, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, handed down a judgment that awarded a woman working as a housewife an equal share of her husband’s estate, the BBC reported.

In its judgment, the court found that the wife had contributed equally to the acquisition of the family’s wealth by doing housework.

What was the litigation about?

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It was about a couple from the state of Tamil Nadu who got married in 1965. After 1982, the husband moved to Saudi Arabia in search of work. His wife, who stayed in India and she had no income of her own, but she used the money sent from her husband to buy some real estate and jewelry.

After returning to India in 1994, the man stated that his wife had tried to take ownership of all their properties. In his opinion, she was hiding gold jewelry and wanted to sell the property by granting a power of attorney to the person with whom she allegedly had an affair. The litigation involved, among other things, four properties purchased in the woman’s name.

In 1995, a man filed a lawsuit to claim ownership of the property and the gifts he had given her. However, in 2007, he died and his children took over the claim.

The joint effort of both spouses

In its ruling, the court found that the wife contributed equally to the acquisition of the family fortune by doing housework.

He explained, “the contribution made by the husband by earning money or by the wife by taking care of the family and children” means that “both are entitled equally to what they have earned through their joint efforts.”

The court was of the opinion that it did not matter in whose name the property was purchased. The person who cared for and cared for the family was entitled to an equal share of the property.

“The court also found that the housework that the woman did indirectly contributed to earning the money that enabled her to purchase the property, and that her work allowed her husband to earn a living,” the BBC reads.

“The wife works 24 hours in a variety of jobs, including chef, ‘home doctor’ and ‘home economist’,” the court ruled. In the absence of housekeeping duties, the husband would have to pay for services provided in those roles.

An important ruling for Indian women

As highlighted, while there is no law that directly or indirectly recognizes a housewife’s contribution, the court stated that there is no law preventing judges from recognizing it.

Women’s rights lawyer Flavia Agnes called it “a very positive ruling as it recognizes women’s domestic work”.

Malavika Rajkotia, a family and property lawyer, said the verdict was a “very important milestone” that women were “trying to evolve and stand up for their various cases”.

Read more: The pay gap, the glass ceiling and the workload. What do we know about the financial independence of Polish women

Main photo source: CatherineLProd / Shutterstock.comS



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