Thank God there is High Court.
TNN | Jun 15, 2016, 06.28 AM IST
Ahmedabad: When Bhavna Rajput filed a complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act against her husband Ramesh and her in-laws, a neighbour, Ramila Suthar, was also saddled with court proceedings.
Interestingly, lower courts in Mehsana had ordered this neighbour to jointly bear the responsibility to pay for Bhavna's maintenance and residential accommodation. Bhavna quit her matrimonial home in Kamli village of Unjha, following the incident, and went to live at her parental home in Khandosan village, Visnagar taluka.
Bhavna approached a magisterial court in 2013, which ordered the Rajputs to pay Rs2,000 every month towards her maintenance. The order was challenged by both parties in the sessions court, where the amount of maintenance was increased to Rs 4,000 per month besides Rs1,000 for residential accommodation. The court orders were binding upon Suthar, too, because she was also named as a respondent. Her name figured in the complaint, because Bhavna felt that she had a part behind the ill treatment Bhavna faced from her husband and in-laws.
When the issue came before the Gujarat high court on Monday, it immediately dropped the case against Suthar.
The court also quashed payment orders on the ground that the complaint under the DV Act against a neighbour is "not only unwarranted, but unjustified and illegal". The HC further said that if there is no relationship between such third person and the husband or spouse, then, any court order under DV laws against third person becomes nullity and they are required to be quashed.
The high court criticized lower courts for ignoring settled law that complaints under DV laws are not maintainable against a person who is not part of the family or in relationship with the spouse. "The trial court has failed to restrict such order only against husband and in-laws of the complainant. Unfortunately, similar mistake continued when the appellate court decided the appeals. Again, the appellate court has failed to differentiate the liability opponents No 1 to 5 (husband and in-laws) on one hand and opponent No 6 (Ramilaben) on the other."