Neutral law needed to protect victims of domestic violence: HC
MADURAI: The Madurai bench of Madras high court imposed a cost of Rs 5,000 on a woman who was found to be harassing her father-in-law, a government school teacher, and warned people against filing "petty and frivolous cases" under the Domestic Violence Act.
Justice Vaidyanathan, dismissed the woman's petition seeking direction to consider her representation dated January 22, 2015 asking the district educational officer (DEO), Srivilliputur in Virudhunagar district to take departmental action against her father-in-law and to stop his promotion. The judge said the petitioner could not harass the employee (her father-in-law) by sending a representation to her in-law's employer (the DEO) to act in a manner that she wanted.
During the hearing, the woman's side said there had been a difference of opinion between her and her husband which was later settled. Thereafter, she was allegedly asked for dowry and driven out of her matrimonial home. She lodged a complaint with the all-women police station, Srivilliputur last year and cases were registered against husband and her in-laws under the Tamil Nadu Women Harassment Act and IPC. She filed a case before the judicial magistrate court, Srivilliputur under the Domestic Violence Act.
Recently, the petitioner came to know that her father-in-law is going to be promoted as headmaster. As per the rules, a person with a criminal case pending against them is not entitled to be promoted to the next category. She sent a representation to the DEO against the move, but there was no action on it, her side said.
After hearing the arguments, the judge said, "Nowadays, filing cases under the Domestic Violence Act by female members has become common. A neutral and unprejudiced law is needed to protect the genuine victims of domestic violence, irrespective of gender."
The judge observed that it was no doubt true that the perpetrators of domestic violence need to be appropriately punished and dealt with, but at the same time, protection could not be withheld from real victims for any reason whatsoever, least of all their gender.
"The notable flaw in this law is that it lends itself to such easy misuse that women will find it hard to resist the temptation to 'teach a lesson' to their male relatives and will file frivolous and false cases," the judge said.
"Though this court is not examining in this case as to whether there is any violation, a bare reading of the affidavit shows that the provisions (of the Act) has been used by her as a tool to wreak vengeance against her husband and in-laws. Since her father-in-law is a government servant, it has become easier for her to target him and easily throw him out of the job by lodging a complaint. Therefore it cannot be said that there is no misuse of the Act," the judge said. "Here, she has no locus standi to ask for documents.
Finding no merits in the frivolous petition, it is dismissed with the cost of Rs 5,000, payable to the Chief Justice Relief Fund, which in turn shall be forwarded to the persons affected in Nepal earthquake tragedy," the judge said.