A husband’s refusal to allow his wife to share the household and stay with him will amount to ‘domestic violence’ under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWD), the Supreme Court has held. The court ordered payment of Rs. 5 lakh to a woman, who was thrown out of the house by the husband for not giving him more dowry. He did not allow her entry even after a trial court passed an order.
“Section 3 of the PWD relates to economic abuse, which includes prohibition or restriction on 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,” a bench of Justices S.J. Mukhopadhaya and V. Gopala Gowda said.
Writing the judgment, Justice Mukhopadhaya pointed out respondent Babu did not allow appellant wife Saraswathy to reside in the same matrimonial home after marriage, even after the order passed by the subordinate judge. “We hold that there is a continuance of domestic violence committed by the husband against the wife,” he said.
The bench said the trial court, having considered the provisions of the PWD Act and the fact that the wife was prevented by the husband from entering the matrimonial home even after the order was passed by the subordinate judge, had directed the husband not to disturb the possessions of the wife and pay her a monthly maintenance of Rs. 2,000 to meet medical, food and other expenses.
The Madras High Court, on appeal, upheld the maintenance order, but refused to award damages.
The present appeal by the wife against the High Court order was for compensation and damages for domestic violence.
Allowing the wife’s appeal, the Bench said, “The appellant wife, having been harassed since 2000, is entitled to protection orders and residence orders under the PWD Act, along with the maintenance as allowed by the trial court. Apart from these reliefs, she is also entitled to compensation and damages for injuries caused by acts of domestic violence. We are of the view that the appellant wife should be compensated by the respondent husband to the extent of Rs.5,00,000, which should be paid within six months.”