The Supreme Court will examine whether the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 will have retrospective or prospective operation.

A Bench, after hearing senior counsel Shiv Kumar Sharma and counsel Uday Gupta last week, issued notice to a woman on a petition from her husband challenging a Delhi High Court judgment holding that the Act would have retrospective operation.

The Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir, T.S. Thakur and C.K. Prasad, while posting the matter to July, stayed all further proceedings in the trial court.

According to Akhilesh Verma, the Act came into force on October 26, 2006 and his wife, Aastha Saxena's complaint pertained to an earlier period. He said there were conflicting views among the High Courts on the applicability of the law. While the Delhi and Madras High Courts held that the Act would have retrospective operation, the Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh High Courts ruled that it would be operative only prospectively.

In this case, the marriage was solemnised on August 23, 1980 and it was alleged that the woman was driven out of her matrimonial home on July 4, 2005. In November 2006, she filed a petition before a magistrate under Section 12 of the Act seeking reliefs. The magistrate granted her an interim relief of Rs.6, 000 a month and passed some other directions. On appeal, the Delhi High Court held that the law would have retrospective operation and declined to quash the proceedings.

Cardinal principle

In his special leave petition against this order, Mr. Verma contended that it was a cardinal principle of construction that every statute was prima facie prospective “unless it is expressly or by necessary implication made to have retrospective operation.”

In this case, the Act should be applied only prospectively, i.e. from the date of its coming into force, October 26, 2006, from when all acts of domestic violence as defined in Section 3 would be covered.

“Acts of domestic violence prior to October 26, 2006 shall be governed by the provisions of the Indian Penal Code.”

As various High Courts interpreted the law differently, its position was required to be settled by the Supreme Court, the petitioner said.


Towards protecting womenJune 17, 2010

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