The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

    Domestic violence is not a problem only of the lower classes but it exists in all classes of the Indian Society. In most of the cases they even fail to understand that they are the victim of domestic violence. Being a patriarchal society, the traditions has been such, that women are expected to accept all kinds of torture and violence. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (the ‘Act’) gives a lot of legal power in the hands of these women to fight for their rights. With every development there comes a way to misuse it. There are often cases where women try to misuse their power. It is for this reason we have faith in the Hon’ble Judges and the Courts to provide relief to the just party and see through the malice.

    Domestic violence as per Section 3 of the Act has physical, mental sexual, verbal or economical abuse.

    • Physical abuse includes hurt of any kind. Assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force.
    • Sexual abuse includes abuses that humiliates, degrades or violates the dignity of woman.
    • Economic abuse such as not providing money for maintaining woman or her children.
    • Verbal or emotional abuse is humiliation or ridicule for not having a child or male child or repeated threat to cause physical injury.

    Features of the Act:

    1. The Complainant: Any woman (mother, sister, wife, widow or partners living in a shared household) who is an “aggrieved person” under section 2 of the act can complaint of domestic violence.

    2. The Respondent/ accused: As per section 2 (q);

    • Any adult male member who has been in a domestic relationship with the woman
    • Relatives of the husband or the male partner including both male and female relatives of the male partner

    3. Definition of domestic relationship: The Act clearly define domestic relationship as a relationship in

    • Marriage,
    • Adoption,
    • Family members,
    • Related through blood relations.
    • A relationship in the nature of marriage (like live-in relationships),

    4. ‘Live-in’ relationship: though the act doesn’t clearly mention ‘live-in’ relationship however the landmark judgement of D. Velusamy v. D. Patchiammal[1] broadly discuss and elaborate the relation between an man and a woman to fall under the category of  “A relationship in the nature of marriage”. They are;

    1. Both parties must behave like husband and wife;
    2. They must have attained the legal age of marriage;
    3. They should qualify to enter into marriage;
    4. They must voluntarily live together in the same place for a significant amount of time;
    5. They must have lived together in a significant household.
    6. It was also explained that if a man ‘keeps’ a woman for the purpose of using her for sexual purposes and/or as a servant, it won’t qualify as a relationship like that of marriage.

    5. Powers of the Magistrate: on being satisfied with geniuses of the complaint the magistrate may accordingly pass an order against the respondent;

    • From committing any act of domestic violence;
    • To either singly or jointly, to undergo counselling
    • If considered necessary, the proceedings may be directed to be conducted in camera
    • Grant monetary relief to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person and any child of the aggrieved person as a result of the domestic violence.
    • Grant a custody orders/ temporary custody of any child or children to the aggrieved person.
    • Grant compensation/damages for the injuries. Including mental torture and emotional distress caused by the acts of domestic violence committed by that respondent.
    • Directing the responded not to evict the woman from the household

    6. Simultaneous complaint and relief: An aggrieved party has the power to simultaneously file a complaint under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code[2]. Relief can be sought for domestic violence in other legal proceedings like for, petition for divorce, maintenance or under section 498a IPC etc.

    7. Speedy justice: The act ensures speedy justice as the court has to start proceedings and have the first hearing within 3 days of the complaint being filed in the court and every case must be disposed-off within a period of sixty days of the first hearing.

    8. ‘In’-camera: Chapter 4 Section 16 allows the magistrate to hold proceedings in camera “if either party to the proceedings so desires”.

    [1] (2010) 10 SCC 469

    [2] Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.