Domestic Violence: India

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The extent of the problem

2018, 19

Ambika Pandit, March 22, 2021: The Times of India

Domestic violence cases dipped 4.5% in ’19: NCRB

National Crime Records Bureau data showed that the number of cases registered under Section 498A of IPC for ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ registered an increase of 21.3% in 2019 compared with 2018. On the other hand, the number of cases registered under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (PWDV) Act 2005 reflected a decline of 4.5% in 2019 over 2018.

The number of cases registered under Section 498A was 1,04,551 in 2017; 1,03,272 in 2018 and 1,25,298 in 2019 while the number of cases registered under the domestic violence Act was 616 in 2017, 579 in 2018 and 553 in 2019.

Highlighting this data, the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs chaired by Congress MP Anand Sharma, in its report on ‘Atrocities and Crimes Against Women and Children’, recommended that the home ministry advise states/UTs to conduct periodic sensitisation and briefings of ground-level officials dealing with PWDV Act so that women facing domestic violence could be better equipped to access justice. “Due publicity should be given by states/UTs to PWDV Act through newspapers, TV channels and other means to create awareness among people. A nationwide study may also be conducted to monitor the progress with regard to implementation of various laws meant for preventing crimes against women,” the committee said.

The panel’s report said NGO ‘Jagori’ had informed it that several cases of domestic violence went unreported. The reasons for under-reporting were personal (embarrassment, fear of retaliation, economic dependency, fear of losing kids or home); societal (imbalanced power relations for men and women in society, privacy of the family, victim-blaming attitudes, lack of acceptance and support from natal families); and institutional (humiliation by police, entrenched patriarchal practices within courts, inadequate shelter and short-stay homes and one stop centres).


Ambika Pandit, December 15, 2020: The Times of India

Karnataka tops the list of 17 states and five Union Territories with 44% of women surveyed in the state in the age group of 18-49 years saying they had faced spousal violence at some time, followed by Bihar (40%) and Manipur (39.6%), according to data from Phase I of National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-20).

NFHS-5 defines spousal violence to include “physical and/or sexual violence”. Three more states reported over 30% of women in the 18-49 years age group responding in the affirmative to the question if they had “ever experienced spousal violence”. These states are Telangana (36.9%), Assam (32%) and Andhra Pradesh (30%). Karnataka, in fact, reported a spike when compared to NFHS- 4 (2015-16) when 20.6% women surveyed had experienced spousal violence. Assam, too, witnessed a rise when compared to 24.5% in NFHS-4.

On the other hand, though the figure is high in Manipur, the state reported a sharp decline as compared to 53.2% in the 2015-16 survey. Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Telangana also registered a decline in 2019-20 when compared to NFHS-4 figures of 43.4%, 43.7% and 42.9% respectively. Data shows 25.2% women in Maharashtra reported having experienced spousal violence, up from 21.3% in 2015-16 while West Bengal (27%) showed a decline when compared to 33.1% women falling in this category in NFHS-4.

Kerala had 9.9% of women reporting spousal violence, a decline from 14.3% in 2015-16. Jammu & Kashmir (9.6%), Himachal Pradesh (8.3%), Goa (8.3%) and Nagaland (6.4%) fall in the below 10% category with Lakshadweep recording the least (1.3%) number of such women. The survey in the section of gender-based violence also provides an insight into data on young women in the 18-29 years’ age group, who experienced sexual violence by age 18. Child sexual abuse often goes unreported and hence this data is critical. The percentage of women who admitted to having experienced sexual violence by the age of 18 years ranged from 11% in Karnataka, 9.7% in West Bengal, 8.7% in Ladakh, 8.3% in Bihar, 8% in Assam and 6.2% in Maharashtra to 1.8% in Andaman & Nicobar Islands and 0.8% in Lakshadweep.


Ambika Pandit, Nov 25, 2021: The Times of India

Every fourth woman in the age group of 20-24 was married before turning 18, though in percentage terms underage marriages declined from 26.8% to 23.3% in the last five years. According to the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21), the problem is much bigger in rural India where the percentage was 27%, whereas in urban areas underage marriage accounted for 14.7% of marriages.

The data shows that 6.8% females aged between 15-19 years were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the survey. The rural-urban difference was prominent, with 3.8% women falling in this category in urban areas and 7.9% in rural areas. NFHS-5 reflects an overall marginal decline from 7.9% from 2015-16. Men aged between 25-29 years who were married before the legal age of 21 years was 21.1% in rural areas and 11.3% in urban India. Overall, such men accounted for 17.7% in 2019-21 as compared to 20.3% in 2015-16.

NFHS-5 defines gender based violence as spousal violence which includes “physical and/or sexual violence”. This remains an area of concern despite a slight decline nationally from 31.2% women in the age group of 18-49 years suffering it in 2015-16 to 29.3% in the latest survey period.

Data for 11 states and three UTs released in the second phase of NFHS on Wednesday shows that the percentage of women who “ever experienced” spousal violence was highest in Tamil Nadu (38.1%), followed by Uttar Pradesh (34.8%), Jharkhand (31.5%), Odisha (30.6%), Puducherry (30.5%) Madhya Pradesh (28.1%), Arunachal Pradesh (24.8%), Rajasthan (24.3%), Delhi (22.6%), Chhattisgarh (20.2%), Haryana (18.2%), Uttarakhand, (15.1%), Punjab (11.6%) and Chandigarh (9.7%). In the data released last year for 17 states and five UTs under NFHS-5, Karnataka topped the list with 44% women surveyed saying that they have faced spousal violence at some point of time.

The survey also cites data on young women aged 18-29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18. The all-India percentage remains static from NFHS-4 to NFHS-5 at 1.5%.

"Domestic violence" does not include…

Husband’s 2nd marriage

Vaibhav Ganjapure, August 17, 2021: The Times of India

The Nagpur bench of Bombay HC has ruled that the act of a man marrying for second time can’t be treated as a case of domestic violence against his divorced first wife.

Admitting a petition filed by a Jalgaon resident, his parents and sister, justice Manish Pitale said the primary appellant’s first wife could have filed a case against her ex-husband under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, only if she were still married to him. “But the said fact in itself (the man marrying a second time) would not be enough for her to initiate proceedings under the DV Act since divorce proceedings have attained finality.”

The judge censured the Akola-based woman for filing a case against her in laws to “harass them”, calling it an “abuse of the process of law”.

“The wife couldn’t be permitted to keep the husband and in laws engaged in litigation in this form when the DV Act’s requirements didn’t appear to be satisfied. The chronology of events indicates that she sought to invoke provisions after her divorce case attained finality up to SC. It was not as if she initiated a proceeding during matrimonial discord between the parties,” he said.

Quashing an Akola court’s May 17, 2016, notice rejecting the petition to dismiss proceedings sought by the wife under the domestic violence act, the judge pointed out that it was after she suffered “adverse orders” in divorce case that she sought to invoke that law.

The couple had married on March 13, 2011, but discord seeped into the relationship soon after. The husband filed for divorce, which was allowed by the Akola family court on September16, 2014. The woman challenged the order in HC, but it was rejected on August 10, 2015, and by the SC on February 15, 2016. The husband meanwhile, got married again.

Married woman living with another man cannot seek DV relief

Saeed Khan, February 20, 2023: The Times of India

Ahmedabad : Not all live-in relationships are domestic relationships under the Domestic Violence Act and a married woman’s cohabitation with another man is not a bond that would entitle her to relief under this law, a sessions court here has observed.

The Mirzapur rural court quashed summons issued to a man and his family after it emerged that the woman who alleged domestic violence was married during the period in which she claimed to have lived with her partner. While the woman claimed to be in cohabitation with the man, her previous marriage was subsisting during that period, the court noted. It cited a Bombay HC order that a ll live in relationships do not amount to a relationship in the nature of marriage to get the benefit of the DV Act. If the woman is married, she cannot enter a domestic relationship with another man under Section 2(f) of DV Act.

The court quoted more citations and said: “Status of such woman may be of concubine or mistress but same would not entitle her for protection under DV Act. ”

The woman had filed a complaint under DV Act alleging that her “husband, brother-in-law and mother-in-law” were ill-treating her after their marriage in 2018.

The man challenged before a sessions court the summons and trial court’s cognisance of the complaint. He denied a marital relationship. He placed before the court a notarised divorce deed drawn up between the woman and her earlier husband. He argued while the woman was married till 2022, she could not have beenhis wife in 2018.

Daughter-in-law’s relatives not covered under DV

Rosy Sequeira, January 7, 2024: The Times of India

Mumbai: The Bombay high court, while holding that a mother-in-law’s domestic violence complaint against her daughter-in-law is maintainable under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, it is, however, not maintainable against the daughter-in-law’s father and brother.

“While the object and purpose of the DV Act is to protect a woman from domestic violence, it does not confer a right on a mother-in-law to prosecute the father and brother of her daughter-in-law under the DV Act,” said Justice Neela Gokhale in a ruling.

The daughter-in-law, Zareena (name changed), her father and brother moved the HC to quash the complaint and November 2018 summons by a Satara magistrate. Zareena married in May 2016. Since her husband and family ill-treated and subjected her to tremendous cruelty. She had filed a complaint in December 2017, under the DV Act against her husband and his family. Her mother-in-law also filed a DV complaint.

Zareena’s advocate Sushil Upadhyay said there was never any shared household among the parties and his clients do not fit in the categories against whom a DV complaint can be filed. Justice Gokhale said the complaint suggests that Zareena’s father and brother were never in a domestic relationship with her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law, however, claimed Zareena’s father was her husband’s cousin and hence related to her through marriage. “However, the complaint in its entirety clearly reveals that the allegations made against these petitioners are in their capacity as father and brother of Zareena, and not through her marital relation. The inept attempt of the mother-in-law, in some way or the other, to fit these petitioners in a domestic relationship is farfetched and hence, fails,” Justice Gokhale added.

The mother-in-law alleged Zareena’s father and brother insisted that her son live with them and there were threats against her. Justice Gokhale said these averments themselves do not bring them both under definition of ‘aggrieved person’, ‘domestic violence’ , ‘respondent’ or ‘shared household’ in the Act. “Mere allegations of threats and violence by the father and brother are not sufficient to make them liable for prosecution under the Act,” she added.

Justice Gokhale quashed the complaint against the father and brother and set aside the summons. She said that though the complaint does not indicate Zareena and her mother-in-law lived in a ‘shared household’ for a substantial period, they are related by marriage and also lived in a joint family for some time. Noting that domestic violence is now gender neutral, she said Zareena will fall within the definition of ‘respondent’. Therefore, Justice Gokhale held that the mother-in-law’s complaint against Zareena is maintainable, “subject to the satisfaction of other (DV) criteria.”

Eviction from house

Give an alternative first: Court

Abhinav Garg, Dec 28, 2019 The Times of India

A woman fighting a case under the Domestic Violence (DV) Act cannot be evicted from a shared household by her husband and her in-laws, even if they own the property, till the time they provide her with alternative accommodation, the Delhi high court has said in a significant ruling.

A bench of Justice Rekha Palli on December 18 allowed the appeals filed by six women challenging their eviction orders by the trial court, when they had a “residence order” in their favour under the DV Act.

Setting aside their eviction decrees, the high court said that the trial courts must decide the matters afresh while ensuring the women’s right to shelter under the DV Act.

It added that a civil court cannot render a woman without a roof as long as she continues to be in a matrimonial relationship.

Daughter-in-law vs Sr citizens: HC strikes balance

Merely because the rights accrued to an aggrieved person under the DV Act are in the nature of special protection, and not proprietary, the trial court was not justified in passing a decree which, in effect, whittles away that protection,” Justice Palli noted.

The HC interpreted sections of the Act to stress that this law ensures that “irrespective of the ownership of the premises, the aggrieved person would retain the right to reside therein as long as she is able to prove that she endured domestic violence while being in a domestic relationship with the owner of such premises”.

Trying to strike a balance between the rights of senior citizens and their daughters-in-law, the court also empathised with the plight of in-laws “keeping in view their old age coupled with the medical problems faced by them”. Citing provisions of the Senior Citizens Act, it said the law was enacted to ensure that parents and senior citizens are not made to suffer by their children or forced to reside with estranged daughters-in-law in a property that stands exclusively in their names.

At the same time, it pointed out that in incidents of domestic violence arising out of matrimonial disharmony, the right of residence under the DV Act “is a special step towards ensuring that a helpless wife and her children are not abandoned without any shelter, by categorically protecting their right to reside in the shared household, irrespective of whether the aggrieved wife or her spouse bears any title or interest in the said household”.

The HC said the trial court must rely on the DV Act to ensure that irrespective of who owns the matrimonial home, a daughter in-law “would still retain the right to reside therein as long as she was able to prove that she had endured domestic violence while being in a relationship with the owner of such premises”.

SC ‘stays’ the order

Dhananjay Mahapatra, January 21, 2020: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court stayed a Delhi high court ruling that parents-in-law could not evict an estranged daughter-in-law who was fighting a domestic violence case against them and their son from their house without providing an alternative accommodation.

The high court on December 18 last year had set aside six eviction decrees of trial courts against similarly placed women and said the women had a right to residence till their matrimonial ties subsisted.

Appearing for an elderly parent-in-law, affected by the December 18 order, advocate Prabhjit Jauhar told a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah that the HC exceeded the jurisdiction under the DV Act, which provided that a complaint could be made only against the husband and not against the in-laws. “Can the liability for alternative accommodation for estranged daughter-in-law be fastened on the in-laws’ self-acquired property?” he asked.

The bench stayed the HC order and issued notice to the respondent daughter-in-law. Jauhar asked, “Can it be said that merely by residing for some period in the self-acquired and absolute property of the in-laws, the daughter-in-law acquires a statutory right to reside in the same and can the in-laws be fastened with a liability to provide alternative residence to the daughter-in-law?”

Can’t evict women from shared household: SC

Dhananjay.Mahapatra , May 13, 2022: The Times of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court exponentially expanded the ambit of ‘shared household’ definition under the DV Act and ruled that a woman belonging to any religion — be she a mother, daughter, sister, wife, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law or from any other category — in a domestic relationship has the right to reside in a shared household. 
In a 79-page judgment analysing the ‘shared household’ provision under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act), a bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna said, “A woman in a domestic relationship who is not aggrieved, in the sense that who has not been subjected to an act of domestic violence, has a right to reside in a shared household. Thus, a mother, daughter, sister, wife, mother-in-law and daughterin-law or such other categories of women in a domestic relationship have the right to reside in a shared household dehors a right, title or beneficial interest in the same”. 
Writing the judgment, Justice Nagarathna said right of residence of the aforesaid categories of women and such other categories of women in a domestic relationship is guaranteed under Sub-Section (1) of Section 17 and she cannot be evicted, excluded or thrown out from such a household even in the absence of there being any form of domestic violence.

The bench said, “In the Indian societal context, the right of a woman to reside in the shared household is of unique importance. In India, most women are not educated nor are they earning; neither do they have financial independence so as to live singly”.

Giving a secular character to the DV Act, the SC made it applicable to women irrespective of the faith professed by them as in the case of IPC, CrPC and CPC.

The bench said the expres- sion ‘the right to reside in a shared household’ cannot be restricted to actual residence. “If a woman gets married, she acquires the right to reside in the household of her husband which then becomes a shared household within the meaning of the DV Act. In India, it is asocietal norm for a woman, on her marriage to reside with her husband, unless due to professional, occupational or job commitments, or for other genuine reasons, the husband and wife decide to reside at different locations. Even in a case where the woman in a domestic relationship is residing elsewhere. . . , she has the right to reside in a shared household”.

“If a woman in a domestic relationship seeks to enforce her right to reside in a shared household, irrespective of whether she has resided therein at all or not, then that right can be enforced under Section 17(1) of the DV Act. If her right to reside in a shared household is resisted or restrained. . . then she becomes an aggrieved person and she cannot be evicted, if she has already been living in the shared household or excluded from the same if she is not actually residing therein,” the SC said.

Grounds for "domestic violence"

Not paying for child's birth is not DV

Aamir Khan2, Not paying for child's birth is not domestic violence', August 15, 2017: The Times of India

Expenses of child's delivery whether borne by the husband or by the woman's parents is of no consequence, held a court while rejecting a woman's claims of domestic violence against her estranged husband and in-laws. The court held that the same did not amount to domestic violence.

Similarly, metropolitan magistrate Bhavna Kalia also held that her allegations were vague. The woman had filed a plea under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act seeking various relief including compensation and an order on residence.

The court noted that the wo man's testimony was full of contradictions which prima facie showed that the husband and his family cared for the couple's child. “It appears that the respondent was bearing all the household expenses and school expenses of the child but no extra expenses of the aggrieved. This cannot amount to domestic violence,“ the court held.

However, she alleged, an additional demand of Rs 2-3 lakh was made by the in-laws. The woman also asserted that in 2001, when she was pregnant, her in-laws sent her to her parental home for the delivery of the child. She claimed all the expenses of her hospitalisa tion were borne by her parents.

She said that in January 2002, she was “compelled“ to leave her matrimonial home with her child. The woman also said that on her “alcoholic“ husband's demand her parents had to arrange for a separate accommodation. In April 2007, the husband deserted the woman and their child. The husband and his family , through their counsel Prabhjit Jauhar, however refuted all the allegations made by the woman. The counsel said that the man and the woman had eloped, and therefore, there was no question of a dowry demand. On the contrary, it was the woman's father and brother who had a problem with the marriage and had also threatened the couple.

Households, shared

From the archives of The Times of India 2007, 2009

‘Right to share house can be enforced against husband’

New Delhi: Women fighting legal battles to re-enter the ‘‘shared household’’ can enforce their right to cohabit against estranged spouses and not against in-laws under the Domestic Violence Act, a court has said.

‘‘If the interpretation (that the Act provides right to share house with husband’s relatives) is accepted, all houses of the husband’s relatives will be shared households and the wife can well insist in living in them merely because she had stayed there with her husband for some time in the past. Such a view would lead to chaos and would be absurd,’’ additional sessions judge S K Sarvaria said.

The court, which rejected the plea of an estranged wife seeking re-entry into a house of her mother-in-law, cited a Supreme Court judgment on the issue. ‘‘Undoubtedly, when the husband has been living in a rented property somewhere else, wife cannot say that the property owned... by her mother-inlaw (even prior to her marriage) is the shared household and she should be allowed to re-enter such property,’’ it said.

‘‘The wife is only entitled to claim a right to residence in a shared household, and a ‘shared household’ would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or the house belonging to the joint family of which the husband is a member,’’ it said.

It was hearing the appeal filed by a Delhi-based woman, who had challenged the order of a lower court by which she was restrained from entering the house owned by her mother-in-law. PTI

 SC: Husband liable for woman’s injuries in matrimonial home

Dhananjay Mahapatra, March 9, 2021: The Times of India

Denying pre-arrest bail to a man accused of assaulting his spouse, the Supreme Court said a husband would be primarily liable for injuries inflicted on a wife in the matrimonial home even if these were caused by his relatives.

It was the man’s third marriage and the woman’s second. A year after the marriage, a child was born to them in 2018. In June last year, she lodged a complaint with Ludhiana police against her husband and inlaws after an alleged brutal assault on her by the husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law, accusing her of not meeting their growing dowry demands. When the husband’s counsel Kushagra Mahajan persisted with the request for anticipatory bail, a bench headed by CJI S A Bobde said, “What kind of a man are you? She alleges that you were about to kill her by strangulation. She alleges that you forced a miscarriage. What kind of man are you to use a cricket bat to beat up your wife?”

When Mahajan said she had alleged it was the husband’s father who had used the bat to assault her, the CJI-led bench said, “It does not matter whether it was you (husband) or your father who allegedly used the bat to assault her. When injuries are inflicted on a woman in a matrimonial home, the primary liability is on the husband.” The bench rejected the man’s petition.

The Punjab and Haryana high court, while refusing to grant anticipatory bail to the husband, had extracted the woman’s complaint, which read, “On June 12, 2020, at about 9 pm, the petitioner (husband) and his father, armed with a cricket bat, gave the complainant merciless beatings in which the petitioner’s mother also participated; the petitioner attempted to strangulate the complainant and his father put a pillow on her face with an intention to kill her; after giving her merciless beatings, she was thrown on the road; on being informed, the complainant’s father and brother came there and got the complainant treated as also medico legally examined.” She had also alleged that she had miscarried twice earlier because of assault in her matrimonial home.

Looking at the medical report, the HC had said, “The complainant’s MLR reveals as many as ten injuries on her person including five on her head/face, one on her vagina and multiple reddish bruises of varying sizes around her neck. Eight of the ten injuries are medically opined to have been inflicted by a blunt weapon.”

Refusing to grant pre-arrest bail, the HC had said, “The above injuries and the medical opinion with regard to eight of them having been inflicted with a blunt weapon give prima facie credence to the allegations by the complainant with regard to the petitioner having attempted to murder her by strangulation and of beating her with a cricket bat (a blunt weapon).”

Live in partners

`Live-in partner can't claim aid under DV Act'

Mumbai The Times of India Mar 06 2015

Rajesh Khanna's wife Dimple Kapadia and her family sought quashing of proceedings against them initiated by initiated by the late actor's alleged live-in partner, contending that a woman in such relationship cannot claim relief under the Domestic Violence Act.

Anita Advani, the alleged live-in partner of Khanna, had in 2013 filed a complaint under the DV Act against the Khanna's estranged wife Kapadia, daughters Rinkie and Twinkle and son-in-law Akshay Kumar.

Advani had claimed she was evicted from Khanna's bungalow and sought monthly maintenance and a flat. A court had then sought their reply.“As live-in partner, she cannot claim relief from Khanna's estranged wife and family who have never shared a roof with her,“ Dimple's lawyer said.Justice M L Tahaliyani will now hear the case on March 10.

DV Act not applicable if ’living in’ with a married man

Abhinav Garg, DV Act not for live-in ties if man already married: HC, October 10, 2018: The Times of India

In an important ruling, Delhi high court has said that the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV) can’t be invoked in a live-in relationship if the man is already married.

Justice R K Gauba, in a recent order, quashed the DV Act proceedings filed by a woman against her live-in partner, after HC found that she was aware he was married to someone else while living with her.

“The relationship between the parties not being in the nature of domestic relationship within the meaning of expression used in Section 2(f) Domestic Violence Act, proceedings arising therefrom against the petitioner are quashed,” the court noted.

The woman had filed a petition under DV Act seeking various relief in the nature of protection order, residence order, monetary relief and other compensation from the male partner.

“The factum of marriage of the petitioner was well-known to the second respondent (woman) before she entered into the live in-relationship with him...she very well knew that in order to enter into a marital relationship with another person it was necessary that he also should not be married to another person,” the court observed, pointing out that for a case to qualify under DV Act, there should be a possibility of a couple having a “domestic relationship.”

HC cited Supreme Court rulings to add that the parties should be “otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage with each other” while claiming to be in a domestic relationship such as a live-in arrangement.

Appearing for the male partner, advocate Gurmeet Narula had argued that the woman’s entire case is founded on allegations of a“live-in relationship” but such a relationship was not in the nature of marriage as she was aware that his client during that period was married to another woman.

In her plea, the woman had alleged that the couple had come together and became physically and emotionally involved, and started living together in a house in Gurgaon since 2010. She claimed even though aware that her partner had a child from his first marriage, the man led her to believe his marriage had been dissolved by a decree of divorce by a court. She further claimed before HC that the man had told her in 2008 that his wife had sent him a notice for divorce and he had finally separated from her permanently through divorce by mutual consent in 2010.

However HC wasn’t impressed by the claim and noted that “fact remains that throughout the period the parties lived together under the same roof in Gurgaon the petitioner was married to another woman, their marriage having continued and subsisting that is to say, it having not been dissolved by a decree of divorce.”

HC cited SC rulings to add that the parties should be ‘otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage with each other’ while claiming to be in a domestic relationship such as a live-in arrangement.

Husbands: are they safeguarded by the act?

Safeguards under DV act not available to husbands\ iHC, 2023

February 2, 2023: The Times of India

New Delhi : Delhi High Court has said that the protection under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is not available to a husband or male member of the family, in view of sections 2(a) of the statute.

Section 2(a) defines an “aggrieved person” as any woman who is, or has been, in adomestic relationship with the “respondent” and alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence.

Justice Jasmeet Singh was hearing a plea moved by a woman challenging the proceedings initiated by her husband under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

The woman in her petition contended that the same was totally contrary to theessence of the Act as well as to Section 2(a).

The woman in her petition stated that as per the scheme and object of the statute, protection under the Act is qua an “aggrieved person” which is limited only to a “woman” under section 2(a) and thus, a complaint filed by the husband is ex facie not maintainable.

“Prima facie, it seems in view of Section 2(a), the protection of the Act is not available to a male member of the family and more particularly the husband,” the scourt observed while issuing notice in the plea.

The court also stayed the proceedings in the complaint case filed by the husband pending before a Metropolitan Magistrate of Karkardooma Courts till February 14, the next date of hearing.

Jurisdiction of courts

HC:  ‘Mumbai court can try US plaint’

Rosy Sequeira , Oct 14, 2019: The Times of India

If an incident of domestic violence has occurred in the US, a magistrate in Mumbai has jurisdiction to try the complaint and it is not timebound, the Bombay HC held recently while dismissing a plea by a US-based IT professional.

Justice Sambhaji Shinde’s verdict came on a petition by a 40-year-old man after the Mulund metropolitan magistrate ordered him to pay interim maintenance to his wife and minor son and the sessions court dismissed his appeal.

The couple got married in Lucknow in 2008 as per Muslim rites and left for the US. Their son was born in 2013. Due to differences, the woman moved in with her brother in 2014. The husband filed for divorce in the California superior court and sought custody of the child.

In 2015, the woman returned to India. The husband subsequently divorced her in India. In 2016, the US court granted custody to the father and issued an arrest warrant for the mother. The woman filed a case under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. In 2017, the Mulund magistrate directed interim maintenance of Rs 30,000 to the wife and Rs 15,000 to the son. The sessions court upheld the order.

In HC, the husband’s advocate Prashant Pandey argued there was over two years’ delay by the wife in filing the complaint and, on this ground alone, it ought to have been dismissed. He further contended the magistrate had no jurisdiction to entertain the complaint since the alleged domestic violence had not been committed in India.

The wife’s advocate countered she had filed the case here as she lived in Mumbai with her brother. In his September 25 judgment, justice Shinde said in view of the SC’s verdict and also observations by both lower courts, “there is no substance in the contention” regarding jurisdiction.


Second Wives: maintenance for, rights of

From the archives of The Times of India 2010

HC opens maintenance door to ‘second wife’

Shibu Thomas | TNN

Mumbai: A second wife has to battle not just stigma but also her ‘‘illegal’’ status under Indian laws. If the relationship sours, the laws say she has no right to a maintenance from her polygamous husband nor a share in property (though the children from the wedlock have inheritance rights). But the Bombay High Court, in a path-breaking ruling, has opened a small door for such women.

Justice A B Chaudhari has said second wives could approach courts under the Domestic Violence Act. The judge asked a Nagpur-based 45-year-old housewife, Manda Thaore, to move court under the 2005 law to seek maintenance, accommodation and other benefits from the man who married her 27 years ago.

Justice Chaudhari also directed the husband, Ramaji Thaore (59), to pay a compensation of Rs 15,000 to Manda to cover her legal costs so that she could prosecute him under the Domestic Violence Act.

‘‘To my mind, it is clear that the husband has treated Manda as if she was his wife (but it was his second marriage),’’ said Justice Chaudhari. ‘‘It is no doubt true that Ramaji had cheated Manda and had kept sexual relationships with her resulting in the birth of two children... despite holding that there had been close relationship between applicant and respondent and he treated her like wife and produced children, unfortunately, this court cannot help Manda for providing her maintenance,’’ said the judge, but went on to say that a new law could come to her aid.

‘‘This is a fit case for Manda to have a recourse to the provisions of the new beneficial act, the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, and proceed against her husband for claiming accommodation, maintenance.’’

Under the Indian system, a second wife has no legally enforceable rights unless the man has divorced his first wife. A wife can claim maintenance and alimony under the Hindu Marriage Act as well as the Criminal Procedure Code; she is also entitled to a share of the property. ‘‘The Supreme Court has said that the second marriage is a nullity and so a second wife has no right which is available only to a legally wedded wife,’’ said advocate Arfan Sait, an advocate who practises in the HC.

The DVA says that a woman can move court against a person with whom she is having ‘‘a domestic relationship within a shared household’’, seeking protection from abuse as well as maintenance and accommodation.

Woman entitled to maintenance even after divorce\ HC

Swati Deshpande, February 6, 2023: The Times of India

Mumbai : Bombay HC directed a man to post-divorce pay his wife maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act, observing that once such violence is committed, a subsequent divorce will not absolve the husband from his monetary liability.

The HC directed the husband, a policeman, to pay his ex-wife Rs 6 ,000, upholding a May 2021 order of a sessions court. The couple married in May 2013 and stayed together for less than three months, the HC noted.

The HC single judge bench of justice R G Avachat said the question before it was “whether a divorcedwife is entitled to claim maintenance under PWDVA (DV Act)?. “ Close reading of definition of term “domestic relationship” suggests relationship between two persons, who live or have, at any point of time (necessarily in the past), lived together in a shared household, when they were related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage. This definition is wide enough to include a woman, who had, at one point of time, lived with her husband or with a person in a relationship like marriage,’’ said the HC. 
Justice Avachat said ‘an aggrieved person’ under the Act refers to “any woman who is or has been, in a dom estic relationship” and who allegedly has been subjected to domestic violence.

It was a case of “words against words” said the HC, both alleging ill-treatment by the other in the two months they stayed together after marriage in May 2013. She alleged he had turned her out of the matrimonial home; he said, she had left. 
He had filed for divorce,noted the HC and “within days” she filed fo r maintenance under DV Act, section 12 (application to a magistrate for relief including for compensation by an aggrieved person). The magistrate had rejected her plea but she appealed before the sessions court in 2018 and in 2021, was granted maintenance of Rs 5,000 monthly and additional Rs 1,000 towards rent for separate residence. The husband and his parents approached HC with a petition challenging the order.

The HC held the “husband was under statutory obligation to make provisions of maintenance of his wife. Since he failed to make such provision, the wife has no option but to prefer an application under DV Act”.

Wives’ rights

Woman has right to stay even in in-laws’ home: SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra, October 16, 2020: The Times of India

Woman can’t be thrown out, even if house not owned by husband: SC

NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgment under the Domestic Violence Act that aims to ensure in-laws treat daughters-in-laws well, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that once a woman lodges a complaint under the 2005 law, she will have the right to residence in the shared house even if it was rented or owned by the in-laws and the husband had no ownership right over it. In an important widening of the term ‘shared household’ to protect hapless women at risk of being thrown out of marital homes, the court ruled that the aggrieved woman can claim right of residence in any house that she had lived in with her husband or live-in partner even if that house belonged to the parents-in-law, the husband’s relatives, or was even a tenanted premise where they lived together. To remove her from the house, the only option with the owner of the house is to file an eviction suit, it said. Setting aside an earlier ruling that a distressed woman could have right to residence only if the house where she resided after marriage or during a live-in relationship was owned by the husband or if he had shared ownership right over it (such as a family home), a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R S Reddy and M R Shah gave a wider meaning to ‘shared household’ concept to offer foolproof protection to women or live-in partners from being summarily thrown out of the house by the husband or the in-laws during pendency of her complaint under DV Act.

The bench explained the meaning of ‘living together’ and said there should be some permanency attached to it. “Mere fleeting or casual living at different places shall not make a shared household. The intention of the parties and the nature of living, including the nature of the household, have to be looked into to find out as to whether the parties intended to treat the premises as a shared household or not,” it said.

But it held the DV Act as a milestone in ensuring rights of women, noting that they were often unable to register a complaint due to adverse social equations.

In a 151-page judgment ironing out important issues in applicability of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Justice Bhushan said, “Definition of shared household given in Section 2(s) cannot be read to mean that shared household can only be that household which is household of the joint family of which the husband is a member or in which the husband of the aggrieved person has a share.”

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