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Domestic Violance Act And Current Position Of Domestic Violance

The nature is "she"
This quote shows the importance of women in the world. This is something that has been quoted by many feminist people while describing the importance and to raise various issues faced by the women in the society. In this article too, we are going to discuss about an issue which is quite in concern due to the lockdown and people being in there home.

Generally, when we talk about the gender based laws then there is one fundamental right restricting the discrimination and providing right to equality but the fact that the Indian society is a male dominating society and women have been subjected to various cruelties and hence there have been various legislations protecting and providing various rights to the women in the society. These legislations have been also held constitutional due to falling in the ambit of Article 15(3) of the Constitution of India providing for the positive discrimination for the upliftment of the women and children. One of such cruelties, domestic violence was prohibited let's know about it in detail.

The Act defines the domestic violence in various types under Section 3 where it says that harming, injuring or endangering the health, safety or well being of the woman including sexual, physical, verbal and emotional and economic abuses including abuses for the demand of dowry. The meanings of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional, and economic abuse has been given in the explanation of section 3 itself as given below:
  1. 13 Physical abuse means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force;
  2. "Sexual abuse" includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman;
  3. "Verbal and emotional abuse" includes:
    1. Insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule specially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and
    2. Repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.
  4. "Economic abuse" includes:
    1. Deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance;
    2. Disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person; and
    3. Prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.

Who Can File A Complaint

Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act defines "aggrieved person" as any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent.

The Domestic Violence Act not only covers those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser but it also covers those women who have lived together in a shared household[1] and are related by consanguinity, marriage of through a relationship in the nature of marriage or adoption.

Even those women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women, or living in any other relationship with the abuser are entitled to legal protection under the Domestic Violence Act.

It will not be wrong to say that the domestic violence act gives a wide power to anyone who can possibly report the violence and provides protection to all those who can possibly be subjected to domestic violence.

In the case of S.R. Batra & Another Vs. Smt. Taruna Batra[2], the Supreme Court with reference to definition of shared household under Section 2(s) of the Domestic Violence Act stated that the definition of �shared household' in Section 2(s) of the Act is not very happily worded, and appears to be the result of clumsy drafting requires to be interpreted in a sensible manner.

The Court held that under Section 17(1) of the Act 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 which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member.

Women In Live-In And Domastic Violance:

A wider meaning to an "aggrieved person" under Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act was conferred by the Supreme Court in the case of D. Veluswamy v. D. Patchaiammal[3], wherein the Court enumerated five ingredients of a live in relationship as follows:
  1. Both the parties must behave as husband and wife and are recognized as husband and wife in front of society
  2. They must be of a valid legal age of marriage
  3. They should qualify to enter into marriage eg. None of the partner should have a souse living at the time of entering into relationship.
  4. They must have voluntarily cohabited for a significant period of time
  5. They must have lived together in a shared household

The Supreme Court also observed that not all live-�in�-relationships will amount to a relationship in the nature of marriage to get the benefit of Domestic Violence Act. To get such benefit the conditions mentioned above shall be fulfilled and this has to be proved by evidence.

Against Whom The Complaint Can Be Filed:

Section 2(q) of the Domestic Violence Act defines "respondent" as any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act. Provided, that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.

However, the Supreme Court in the case of Sandhya Wankhede vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wnakhede[4] put to rest the issue by holding that the proviso to Section 2(q) does not exclude female relatives of the husband or male partner from the ambit of a complaint that can be made under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act.

Misuses By The Women

Though the Domestic Violence Act is a beneficial legislation, the same has been many times reported to be misused by women. For instance, in several cases women register complaint under Domestic Violence Act against one and all relatives of husband even without any evidence of abuse against them.

Due to the increasing rate of misuse of legislation, in the case of Ashish Dixit vs. State of UP & Anr.,[5] The Supreme Court has held that a wife cannot implicate one and all in a Domestic violence case. In this case, the complainant apart from arraying the husband and in-�laws in the complaint had also included all and sundry as parties to the case, of which the complainant didn't even know names.

The extreme decision of the Supreme Court shows the severity of the matter and misuse of legislation by the women for their satisfaction.

Picture Of The Other Side:
When on the one hand, women are misusing the legislation made for their benefit, on the other hand there are women who are silently tolerating the violence due to various reasons. Some of them can be observed as given below:
  1. Lack of awareness,
  2. Family pressure,
  3. Welfare of her children,
  4. Non-active behavior of police, etc.

It can be said that the legislation was made for the betterment of the women and to protect their right to live a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India along with other relevant provisions. The Act covers a broad area and actions when it comes to definition of violence. In the similar manner, when it comes to who can file a complaint or against whom such complaint may be filed then to the ambit of this act is quite broad as it tries to cover every possible person who can report or commit such violence.

Further, when there is a law favoring someone then there is a set of society which finds many ways of misusing the same. In the similar manner there are many women who are in the actual need of this legislation but they are unable to access the same due to the reasons as discussed.

In the final view, it can be said that the cases that are being reported cannot be absolutely believed to be genuine and on the contrary if no case is being filed then that cannot be surely said to be the end of such a problem. One is required to apply his/her judicial mind and have to analyze the situation before concluding on any point.

  1. Section 2(f) of Domestic Violence Act� Domestic relationship- "domestic relationship" means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family;
  2. AIR 2007 SC 1118
  3. (2010) 10 SCC 469
  4. (2011) 3 SCC 650
  5. AIR 2013 SC 1077

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