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PROTECTION OF WOMEN AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT, 2005

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written By - Kriti Akarnia

Contents


INTRODUCTION

Domestic violence is a serious social issue that exists in Indian society, India is one of the countries with a high percentage of such cases in the society where women are subjected to violence and the problem affects people regardless of race, gender, or community that they are a part of. The constitution of India guarantees the protection of the rights of women, who suffer from violence and become victims of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE of any kind, occurring within the family and matters connected with the household. Women suffer from such offences and this act provided for the first time in Indian law, a definition of "domestic violence". Domestic violence means violent or abusive behaviour directed by one family or household member against another. It is further described in section 3 of the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005.


SECTION 2 of the act describes an “aggrieved person” as a woman who is in a domestic relationship and alleges or believes to have been subjected to any kind of domestic violence. It also defines a “Domestic relationship” as a relationship between two people living together at any point of time and shares a common household when they are related to each other on the grounds of marriage, adoption, or family members living together in a joint family.

It also describes a “child” as any person under the age of eighteen years including any stepchild, adopted child, or foster child. This section includes the description of various other terms which are considered as an important requirement which is a domestic incident report, domestic violence, dowry, medical facility, notification, protection officer, protection order, respondent, shared household, and shelter home.

The Dowry prohibition act, 1961[1] describes “dowry” as any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly. A dowry is given by one party to a marriage to the other party involved in the marriage.


A shared household is described as the household where the aggrieved person lives in a domestic relationship with or without the Respondent and includes a household that may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member of, whether owned or tenanted jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent, or owned by any of them in respect of which either the aggrieved person or the respondent, jointly or singly, have any right, title, interest, or equity, and includes a household that may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member.

If a woman is subjected to violence, abuse, or aggressive behaviour within the domestic household living in a domestic relationship with the respondent and if the person believes that she was subjected to violent behaviour then it can be called domestic violence.


DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

According to SECTION 3 “domestic violence refers to the harms or injuries that endangers the health, safety, life or well‑being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse”[2] which means that if a person is harassed, abused or injured for the fulfilment of an unlawful demand like dowry and with the intent to coerce or threaten her and to physically or mentally harm the aggrieved person then it is referred to as domestic violence.

It shall constitute domestic violence- If the person is physically harmed resulting in bodily pain, impairment to health and danger to the life of the person including assaulting the person, criminal intimidation, and criminal force, it is referred to as Domestic violence.

If the person is sexually, emotionally or verbally abused. Sexual abuse refers to abusing the person sexually which also includes humiliation, degrading the honour, or violating the dignity of a woman. Verbal abuse involves insulting, any kind of humiliation, name-calling and ridiculing women especially for not having a child, specifically a male child.

A woman may also be a subject to ECONOMIC ABUSE as mentioned in this section, deprivation of any kind of economic or financial service that the aggrieved person is entitled to under any statute, or custom, whether payable under a court order or not, or which is required by the aggrieved person out of necessity to fulfil the needs, including but not limited to DOMESTIC necessities for the aggrieved person itself and her children if any, women’s property jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household. If the aggrieved person is prohibited or restricted from accessing any resource or facility the person is sanctioned to have or is privileged to enjoy by the virtue of domestic relationship including shared household.

Therefore, there are mental, physical, verbal, emotional, and economic factors that should be taken into consideration to determine whether the respondent constitutes domestic violence or not.


Chapter III of the act involves powers and duties of the Protection officers, service providers, etc. Information to protection officer and exclusion of liability of the informant, if any person who has any reason to believe that an act of domestic violence is happening or is likely to happen may give information about it to the concerned authority or the protection officer. No person should be held liable with any civil or criminal liability for giving in good faith of information if the person has a reason to believe that an act of domestic violence is likely to be conducted as mentioned in subsection 1.


Duties of police officers, service providers and magistrate

A police officer, service provider, and a Magistrate who has received any complaint of domestic violence or is present at the place of occurrence of the incident or when the incident is reported to him, shall inform the aggrieved person of her right to make an application for obtaining relief by way of a protection order, an order for monetary relief, a custody order, a residence order, a compensation order. The aggrieved person should also be informed of the availability of services given by service providers and protection officers. Information about her right to free legal services under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 (39 of 1987) and her right to file a complaint under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) should be given to the aggrieved person.


DUTIES OF MEDICAL FACILITIES

If the person who suffered from domestic violence or, on her behalf a Protection Officer or a service provider requests the person in charge of a medical facility to provide any medical aid to her, in this case, the person in charge of the medical facility shall provide the required medical aid to the aggrieved person in the medical facility.


CHAPTER IV refers to the procedure of obtaining orders or relief, presenting an application to the magistrate, an aggrieved person, or on her behalf, the protection officer or service provider may present an application to the magistrate seeking various reliefs, it can include suits for compensation or damages for the injuries suffered by the aggrieved person. The magistrate shall fix a date of hearing which shall not be beyond three days from the date on which the application was received. The magistrate shall also dispose of all the applications presented under subsection 1 within sixty days.

S.R. Batra vs. Smt. Taruna Batra[3],

In this case, the Supreme Court regarding the definition of shared household under section 2 of the Act, which states that Shared household is described as the household where the aggrieved person lives in a domestic relationship with or without the Respondent and includes a household that may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member of, whether owned or tenanted jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent, or owned by any of them in respect of which either the aggrieved person or the respondent, jointly or singly, have any right, title, interest, or equity, and includes a household that may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member.

The Court decided that under Section 17(1) of the Act, a wife may only assert a right to live in a shared household, which can only include the house that the husband owns or rents or the house that belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member. The property did not belong to the husband, and it was not rented out.


2) D. Veluswamy v. D. Patchaiammal[4]

In this case, the supreme court refers to the meaning of “aggrieved person” as defined under section 2 of the domestic violence act. Both the parties must behave as husband and wife and should be recognized as husband and wife by society, their marriage must be legal, and both must be of a valid legal age in marriage. They should qualify for the aspects required to enter the marriage relationship. They must have lived together in a shared household.

JUDGEMENT- The Court in the case further stated that if a man has a ‘keep’ whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for a sexual purpose and/or a servant it would not be a relationship like marriage. The Court has used the word "palimony" in this case, which refers to the payment of support to a woman who has lived with a man for a long time without marrying him and has been abandoned by him.

CONCLUSION

Domestic violence is a serious social issue affecting the lives of people who suffer from it, the Protection of Women Act, 2005 protects the rights of aggrieved victims, any person who is violently or aggressively abused mentally, emotionally, physically, verbally or economically while being in a domestic relationship, can obtain reliefs for the damages, which they suffered from by the acts of the respondent.

[1] The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 [2] Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 [3] S.R. Batra vs. Smt. Taruna Batra [4] D. Veluswamy v. D. Patchaiammal

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