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“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” - Malala Yousafzai

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act, 2005) came into force on 26/10/2006. The Statement of the objects and reasons of the Act states that the Act was legislated on the basis of the recommendation of The United Nations Committee on Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act 43 of 2005 declares that domestic violence is a human rights issue and a serious deterrent to development. Vienna Accord of 1994 and the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action (1995) have acknowledged it. The United Nations Committee on Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Woman (C.E.D.A.W.) in its General Recommendation No. XII (1989) has recommended that the State parties should act to protect women against violence of any kind, especially that occurring within the family.

The Statute is a benevolent piece of legislation aimed to provide for more effective protection of rights of women guaranteed under the constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Bill under Clause 4(i) of the Statement of Objects and Reasons seeks to cover those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage or adoption. In addition, relationships with family members living together as a joint family are also included. The Bill enables the wife or the female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage to file a complaint under the proposed enactment against any relative of the husband or the male partner; it does not enable any female relative of the husband or the male partner to file a complaint against the wife or the female partner. Since the inception of the act the cases in India are of wife suffering Domestic violence from  husbands or his family member.

It is clear that any act should be read in the line of the object and scope of the act so as to understand the legislative intent. The definition of “Respondent” is not exhaustive definition and its interpretation should be in respect of scope and object of the act also read with other provision of act which enlarges the interest of safeguarding the woman which was the very intent of the legislature. The definition of expression “domestic relationship” also had to be taken into consideration in appreciating meaning of word “respondent” and purpose for which legislation was enacted from preamble attached to Act – The ‘respondent’ as defined under Section 2(g) of Act included a female relative of husband depending upon nature of reliefs claimed against respondent in Domestic Violence Case Thus, Act did not exclude women altogether in a proceeding initiated against her. (Reference should be read to: Afzalunnisa Begum & Ors Vs. The State of A.P. & ors 2009 (2) ALD (Cri)155.).The definitions of “aggrieved person”, “domestic relationship” and “shared household” in clauses (a), (f) and (s) of section 2 of the DV Act. Had wider implication and scope which also safeguard all woman not only wife, but also mothers, daughter. The ambit of definition of 2 (a) , (f) and (s)  gives clear idea of large spectrum of protection to all woman seeking to file a complaint and need protection under this act. Since the definitions of “aggrieved person”, “domestic relationship” and “shared household “are wide enough to include mother and sisters as victims of domestic violence, the question is Whether the definition of “respondent” should be read in isolation or whether it should be read as a part of entire scheme of the DV Act. As the complaint can be filed against “any adult male person, who is or has been in domestic relationship with the aggrieved person”, the expression “male person” would definitely include son and, therefore, mother would be entitled to get reliefs against her adult son under the DV Act. If the mother is entitled to get reliefs against the adult son, there is no reason why mother should not be entitled to get relief against relatives of the adult son, that is, against wife of the son (i.e. the complainant’s daughter-in-law). (See Kusum Narottam Harsora V. Union of India)

Thus as the real object of the Act is to give protection to the women, connected with   and related issues, the term “respondent” has to be interpreted, so as to extend the  protection to all the victims of domestic violence who are females, irrespective of the fact whether such domestic violence is meted out by the wife, or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage or step mother, particularly when the definition “aggrieved person” contained in Section 2(a) is not confined to wife or daughter-in-law. (see: Bismi Sainudheen v. P.K. Nabeesa Beevi, Shahul Hameed and State of Kerala) . 2014 CriLJ 904

Recently a magistrate at Delhi has admitted the case of a daughter filed against her parents under Domestic violence. see also (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/delhi-court-summons-molester-mom/1/524576.html)]

ADVOCATE VARUN DEV MISHRA

At High Court of Delhi


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