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Domestic Violence and Live-In Relationship

The family which was once thought to be an arena of love, affection, gentleness, and a center of solidarity and warmth, has now changed into a place of exploitation. Domestic violence's roots can be traced back to India's evolutionary history of humanity. The recurrent abuses and usurpations of women throughout human history have been done with the intention of establishing their dictatorship over them.

Women were usually thought to be weak and susceptible to exploitation. Violence against women has long been regarded as a fact. Domestic violence includes slapping, hitting, harassment by the husband and in-laws for dowry, abuse of elderly females in a family and female child abuse,

Domestic violence against women is a widespread and rising problem that affects all nations, regardless of their socioeconomic or demographic standing. Although there is no gender-specific profile of domestic violence victims, it is commonly found that women make up the majority of the victims. For a variety of causes, women from almost every level-from upper class to lower class, from educated to uneducated are victims of domestic abuse.

The Indian Constitution provides numerous guarantees to shield women from discrimination as well as to uphold their dignity and strengthen their sense of empowerment. These include providing women with protection through the adoption of laws like the Domestic Violence Act which was adopted in 2005 and became effective on October 26, 2006. It involves actual or threatened physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or financial abuse against women in their households.

Research Objective:
  1. To examine the need for enforcement of specific rules related to Domestic Violence.
  2. To study the objectives of Domestic Violence Act.
  3. To analyze the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 with respect to live-in relationships.

Analysis:

What is Domestic Violence?

When one person in a relationship takes advantage of their strength to control the other, that is considered domestic violence. It entails imposing authority and fear in a relationship through the use of violence and other abusive tactics. Examples of this violence include physical, mental, social or even financial . The violence may be constant, sporadic, or intermittent in nature. Generally, women are seen as victims here.

Need for Enforcement of DV Act?

Domestic violence was recognized as a particular criminal offence in 1983 when section 498-A was added to the Indian Penal Code. This section discusses how a woman can be mistreated by her spouse or in-laws. A bill for the protection of women victims who were assaulted under domestic violence at home and ensuring their rights in the home was passed by the parliament in 2001. There is an urgent need for such a law which includes all types of domestic violences throughout the nation. Due to a limited definition of married women's cruelty, DV Act 2005 and 498-A IPC were also misused.

Only issues involving marriage and divorce were regarded as family law issues in domestic violence. The legislation only addresses marriage and divorce; it makes no provisions for what takes place in the interim. This meant that the only way the subject of violence against women can be brought up in a marital home was through divorce.

Up until 1984, when Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code was added, and his spouse and family members committed a crime against his wife. The criminal law addressed these problems. However, because it was more focused on the fear of being arrested than on women's rights, this solution proved to be insufficient.

The right to reside in the married home was not recognized by law, despite of fact that domestic violence was inevitably linked to being kicked out of the marriage home. Security orders cannot be issued by the courts. The defence area is not expanded by Section 498A to include dependent, non-marital, women's family members.

Domestic violence has only ever been defined as physical abuse, and even then, only when it occurs in conjunction with a dowry. No law allowed for the provision of domestic safety, a return to a married residence, or other relieves.

Objectives of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005:

  • To recognize and establish domestic abuse as a crime that must be punished by law
  • To swiftly, affordably and conveniently deliver justice to the wronged party.
  • To impose severe penalties and must make those responsible for committing such horrible acts of violence accountable.
  • To raise people's awareness of domestic violence.
  • To offer defense to victims of domestic abuse when such crimes are committed.
  • To stop domestic abuse from happening and to respond appropriately if it does.
  • To put in place suitable programmes and initiatives for victims of domestic abuse and to ensure their recovery.
  • To establish laws and administer the country in conformity with international norms for the prevention of domestic violence.

Live-In Relationship and Domestic Violence

When unmarried couples live together to maintain a long-term connection in a manner akin to marriage. It is a relationship whereby two individuals choose to live together for an extended period of time or permanently in a close, intimate connection on a sexual and/or emotional level is called live-in relationships. The phrase is used more frequently to describe unmarried couples who live together.

Live-in relationships are a new societal phenomenon in our nation. In India this new kind of partnership is still rather unusual, yet it can occasionally be seen in major cities.

In India, the Court acknowledged a live-in partnership by interpreting the words relationship just like marriage provided in section 2 of the Act in light of shifting societal conditions.

Aggrieved person mentioned in Section 2(a)[1] refers to any woman who either in the past or in present time is in a relationship which is domestic in nature with the respondent and who claims that the respondent did spousal violence to her.

Domestic relationship mentioned in Section 2(f)[2] refers to 'Domestic relationship' refers to a connection among two people who currently or previously share a home, whether they are associated by kinship, wedding, members of a joint family or a relationship that has the characteristics of marriage, adoption,

Shared household mentioned in Section 2 (s)[3] refers to a residence of living of person complaining or has at any time resided in a relationship domestic in nature with the respondent together or alone. It also includes such a residence whether it is owned or rented together by both the parties, or rented or owned by any one of them, and pertains to the complainant or other party collectively or individually ever had any title, right, equity or interest.

Domestic violence is any act that endangers or hurts the victim's life, safety, health, or limb, whether physical or mental. This definition covers sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse as well as financial exploitation.[4]

It is important to note that the phrase "lived together in a shared house" was used to define domestic relationships in section 2(f) of the Act. The length of the parties' residency is not specified. The Act does not mandate that the respondent and petitioner live together or have done so for a predetermined period of time, the Madras High Court concluded in M. Palani v. Meenakshi[5]. At the very least, they lived together while having consenting sexual relations, which allowed the women to continue applying for maintenance. The petitioner and respondent engaged in consenting sexual activity in this case. He did not, however, vow to wed her.

However, under Section 2 of the Act, the phrase relationship just like marriage has been employed in a variety of ways; it has not been given a specific definition. The Court established the following standards for defining the abovementioned expression of relationship just like marriage in the case of D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal[6]:
  1. The couple must both be of legal marriageable age.
  2. They must be single and satisfy all other requirements for a valid marriage.
  3. They must present themselves to the public as being comparable to couples.
  4. For an extended period of time, they must have lived together voluntarily and portrayed themselves to the society as being on an equal footing with couples.

The Court ruled that the above precondition relationship just like marriage as defined by the Act must be met. Furthermore, the parties must be living in a household(shared) as mentioned in section 2(s) of the Act. One-night stands and weekend vacations do not constitute a domestic relationship. Therefore a relationship with someone who is married is not a relationship in the true sense of the word.[7]

The Court further stated that for the purposes of the 2005 Act, every live-in couple will be seen as a married couples but to be eligible for this provision, the four requirements listed above must be fulfilled, and it must be proven. Let's say a man has a 'keep' that he financially supports and primarily employs as a servant or for sex.

This is not a relationship like that of marriage. The Supreme Court has thus obliquely refused in the Madras High Court's judgement in the case of M. Palani. It was determined that couples who were living together at the time of having sex had a domestic connection, which made it possible for a woman to request support.[8]

In the D. Velusamy, the court also pointed out that the ruling would exempt many women who were in live-in relationships from the Act of 2005. However, the Court lacks the power to enact or change laws.

In place of 'live in relationship', Parliament substituted the phrase relationship just like marriage. The Court cannot get the permitted to change text of statute under the cover of interpretation.

Conclusion
Domestic Violence Act is essential to the Indian legal system's defense of women's rights, allowing them to feel safe and secure in the privacy of their own homes. The act was made with an objective to recognize domestic abuse as crime, to punish the wrong doers, to create awareness and protect the rights of women.

The DV Act offers domestic violence victims civil remedies. Prior to this act, domestic violence victims had to turn to civil courts in order to obtain civil remedies like divorce, child custody, any kind of injunction, or maintenance.

Live-in relationships are viewed as sinful by society but they are not necessarily against the law. Living together is not illegal because it is a right to life. Various legislations are made for protection of women in lie-in relationships and also for the protection of child (if happens) in liv-in relationship. Supreme court has also laid down that women in live-in relationships can file a case for domestic violence if the relationship is determined to be just like marriage relationship under the section 2 or more specifically S.2(f) ,S.2(s), S.2(a) and S.3(a) of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Scope for Improvement
Although DV Act includes crucial measures to protect women from domestic violence, it does not offer any recourse for the male family members and does not acknowledge the cohabitation and marriage between individuals from the LGBTQ+ community.

The laws surrounding live-in relationships are unclear, and many issues go unresolved. Children born from such unions should have their rights upheld. A law that outlines the parameters of live-in relationships as well as the partner's rights in such relationships is urgently needed. Also no proper recourse is given like which court to visit when DV is done in live-in relationship?

In order to completely abolish domestic violence as a necessary evil from Indian society, these must be incorporated in the Act.

Bibliography
  1. Dr. Justice V.S. Malimath Report . Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System. Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs. Report Vol I; March 2003.
  2. Kasanappa Naik and Devidas G. Maley, "Live-in-Relationship and Institution of Marriage: Socio-Legal Dimensions, 3 Indian Journal of Law and Human Behavior (2017).
  3. Shubhodip Chakraborty, Law on Domestic Violence [Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005], July 27,2 020, https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2020/07/27/law-on-domestic-violence-protection-of-women-from-domestic-violence-act-2005/.
  4. Loveday Hodson, "A Marriage byAny Other Name?".11 Human Rights Law Review (2011).
  5. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005.
End-Notes:
  1. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005, 2(a), No.43, Acts of Parliament,2005(India).
  2. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005, 2(f), No.43, Acts of Parliament,2005(India).
  3. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005, 2(s), No.43, Acts of Parliament,2005(India).
  4. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005, 3(a), No.43, Acts of Parliament,2005(India).
  5. M. Palani vs Meenakshi ,7 2008 (5) ALL MR (Journal) 38.
  6. D. Velusamy vs D. Patchaiammal, (2010) 10 SCC 469.
  7. Loveday Hodson, A Marriage by Any Other Name?.11 Human Rights Law Review (2011).
  8. Kasanappa Naik and Devidas G. Maley, Live-in-Relationship and Institution of Marriage: Socio-Legal Dimensions, 3 Indian Journal of Law and Human Behavior (2017).

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