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LEGAL FAQS

Q: Soon after her marriage in 2011, my sisterís in-laws began subjecting her to domestic violence. She was not allowed to go out or even given enough food. Her husband is not supportive. In September, she called to say she was feeling dizzy all day (she was taking medicines prescribed by a doctor). On enquiring, I found they were sleeping pills. When I confronted the doctor, he failed to give me any satisfactory reason for prescribing them. In October, she came back to me in Calcutta. Her in-laws have not tried to get in touch with her. Her calls to them have gone unanswered. My sister is scared of going back but wants to live with her husband. Please advise.

A. Saha, via email

A: Your sister should immediately inform the local police station about the instances of domestic violence. Considering that her husband is neither supportive nor interested in taking her back, going back to him may not be a good idea. However, your sister can send a legal notice, through an advocate, to her husband and in-laws addressing her concerns and also expressing her desire to live with her husband. If there is no response, she can file a criminal case under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, against her in-laws and husband and seek protection, monetary as well as residential orders.

Q: I am an only child. My parents separated when I was very young. My father gave my mother a power of attorney, which says she can sell our flat in his absence. She passed away a year ago. I have been told that the flat is under mortgage with the West Bengal Housing Board and a certain amount due to them has to be cleared to acquire the deed. The co-operative society is not considering me the legal heir as I do not have a succession certificate. Neither do I have a missing report of my father, who is a co-owner of the flat. I have no idea about his whereabouts. How do I get legal ownership of the flat? If I intend to sell it, what measures will I have to take?

Name withheld

A: You could submit a declaration in an affidavit before a magistrate, under the provisions of the West Bengal Co-operatives Societies Rules, 1987, that you are the rightful claimant as the only legal heir of your deceased mother. If your father has been missing for more than seven years, you can file a civil suit for declaration of his death with the help of an advocate. Only after it is proven that both your parents are deceased can you become the legal owner of the flat, obtain membership or sell it.