‘Domestic violence law does not spare women’

Complaints under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, need not be made only against men since the legislation does not insulate women from being accused of offences mentioned under it, the Madras High Court Bench here has held.

Allowing a criminal revision case, Justice P.R. Shivakumar reversed the decision of a judicial magistrate who had refused to take on file a complaint made by a woman from Tuticorin accusing her mother-in-law and sister-in-law of subjecting her to domestic violence.

“The said finding of the learned judicial magistrate is totally against the principle of law. The said finding needs to be interfered with. Section 2 (q) of the Domestic Violence Act is not restricted to male relatives of the complainant’s husband. It will include female relatives, too,” the judge said. He recalled that the issue of booking women under the Domestic Violence Act came up for consideration before the Principal Seat of the High Court in Chennai in 2008 itself. While deciding the question, two judges of the High Court had taken contradictory views.

One of the judges had held that a complainant could not seek relief such as compensation or damages for the injuries sustained by her owing to domestic violence since Section 12 of the Act used the term ‘respondent’ which had been defined to mean an adult male person in a domestic relationship.

However, another judge took a view that Section 2(q), which defines the term respondent, contained a proviso that an aggrieved wife or a female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage could file a complaint against the relative of the husband/male partner. Subsequently, the issue was referred to a Division Bench which followed judgments passed on the issue by the High Courts in Rajasthan, Bombay and Andhra Pradesh and held that complaints under the Act could be maintained even against female relatives.

“The learned counsel for the contesting respondents in the present case is not in a position to cite any other decision of the Supreme Court or the High Court expressing a different view…. Hence, the revision is allowed, and the order of the Judicial Magistrate is set aside,” Mr. Justice Shivakumar said.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2022 3:25:43 pm |