Abuse of Domestic Violence Act, 2005
Abuse of Domestic Violence Act 2005
Domestic Violence has been construed as violation of Human Rights. Thus in order to curb such instances, India enacted the Domestic Violence Act 2005. As per the provisions of the Act, any physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic abuse constitutes as Domestic Violence. The Act draws its power from Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution to put the women on an equal footing with men. Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act 2005 defines the acts and conduct of the respondent which can constitute as Domestic violence like in case he:
- harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb 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; or
- harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
- has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause 1 or clause 2;
- Otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.
It was hoped that this Act would bring about a reform in the judicial system making women empowered but unfortunately this Act has been tremendously misused leaving men in fear. Under this Act any woman in a relationship with a man be it through marriage or a live-in (for a considerable amount of time), can easily file a complaint even against any of the relatives of the husband or the male partner. In fact Madras High Court even commented that the Act has certain inherent flaws which tempt women to use it against men. Supreme Court even went to the extent of calling the provisions “legal terrorism” observing an increase in the number of false cases Former President Pratibha Patel also expressed that such legal provisions have been subjected to distortion and misuse to wreak vengeance . We will be discussing a couple of cases to get a detailed perspective on this topic.
- Sumana Bhasin v Neeraj Bhasin: A Metropolitan Magistrate of Saket in New Delhi with Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan as the judge dismissed a case filed by a woman of South Delhi. The Court dismissed the case on grounds of falsity saying that the woman concealed important facts to harass her husband and in-laws. The woman under the veil of legal provisions wanted to extract an unjustified amount of money from them. The Court realizing such malicious intentions of the woman also in imposed a cost of Rs.1 lakh on her exemplary costs which would be deposited in the account of Blind Relief Association. The fine was imposed with a view to further restrict women from misusing such sensitive laws.
- The Madurai bench in Madras High Court imposed a cost of Rs 5000 on a woman who was unnecessarily harassing her father-in-law under the Domestic Violence Act. The petition filed by the woman was dismissed by Justice Vaidyanath on the grounds of frivolity. The woman had approached the District Educational Officer of Virudhunagar to hold the promotion of her father-in-law who was a government school officer. The Court observed that the petitioner had no right to send a representation to the employer of her father-in-law and thus hindering his job prospects.
Remedies proposed to Avoid Legal Terrorism:
- Women Organizations can take responsibility to ensure that false complaints are not filed.
- Government can spread awareness among people thus educating them on the misuse of thus Act and its detrimental consequences;
- Investigation should be carried out civil authorities and cognizance in these offences should be carried out only after the guilt has been proved.
- Family Counseling centers should be created across the country.
- A fair and speedy trial has also become a necessity to ensure that innocent people do not suffer.
For the betterment of the society, it is imperative that the Act be made Gender-Neutral so that men can voice their problems. The provisions of this Act cover all sorts of abuse including economic and mental abuse. Mental Abuse is a very vague and wide topic to comprehend and implement while economic abuse can be used a weapon to demand any amount of money from the husband and the husband would have to comply with such demands to avoid future trouble. It is thus extremely important that strict guidelines are laid down by the Government taking assistance of the Judiciary to curb the misuse of such laws.
 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, s3
 Sumana Bhasin v Neeraj Bhasin 88 AIC 39( SC)
 L. Saravanan, ‘Court warns woman against misuse of Domestic Violence Act’, Times of India (New Delhi, 19 June 2015)