In a move limiting the ambit of the Domestic Violence Act, the Bombay high court said the existence of a ‘domestic relationship’ is a must to take action under it.
The court held there could be no domestic violence without a domestic relationship and if a wife has been living separately from her husband for some time, she cannot file a complaint of domestic violence against him.
The court issued the order while hearing an appeal filed by 64-year-old Jayantilal Kanji Nagda against a sessions court order. Nagda’s wife had taken him to court seeking relief under the DV Act even though they had been separated for 35 years.
While the magisterial court had denied her any relief, in 2009, the sessions court upturned the order, stating the magistrate should have considered the husband’s past conduct.
Justice RP Sondurbaldota of the Bombay high court allowed Nagda’s appeal and held the magistrate was right because the couple had been living separately since 1973.
The couple had got married in 1972. While neither of them had sought divorce, Nagda continued to pay maintenance to his wife.
“Considering the long gap of 34 years, there cannot be any infirmity in the view of the magistrate, that after such a long separation, prima-facie, there cannot be domestic violence. Her complaint shows that the solitary incident of violence alleged by her is against her mother-in-law in Nagda’s absence. Thus, even prima facie, there is no merit in her claims,” the high court said.