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Legopedia

Domestic Violence Act

domestic violence act 2005

Introduction To Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a menace in the present Indian society. It is an extreme form of manifestation of abuse against women. Domestic violence is an example of violence inflicted on women in private spaces where the perpetrator is known to or related with the woman. This problem of domestic violence in India is not only present in rural areas, but also in urban areas. According to a report by National Family Health Survey, a staggering 29 percent of women reported physical abuse in rural areas, whereas, in urban areas, the percent of women who reported such abuse was 23 percent. [1]

The actual number of women facing domestic violence at home is much higher. This is because of lack of awareness. Many women also don’t come forward such allegations because they fear being isolated from society. Some women, especially in rural areas, have accepted domestic violence as a way of life.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was enacted in the year 2005. This act was put in place to protect women who suffer from domestic violence in the household. The definition of ‘Domestic Violence’ can be found in the act itself. Section 3 of the Act states that:

For the purposes of this Act, any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it –

(a) 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

(b) 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

(c) has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or

(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person. [2]

The scope of Domestic Violence mentioned under this act is wide, as it is inclusive of various forms of it. According to this Act, Domestic Violence may include:

  • Physical Abuse,
  • Sexual Abuse,
  • Verbal and Emotional Abuse and
  • Economic Abuse. [3]

Who can file a complaint, and against whom

The complaint about domestic abuse can be filed by making an application to Magistrate. The following people can file the said complaint

  • An aggrieved person (the woman herself who has been subjected to physical, mental, sexual or economic violence in a domestic relationship)
  • A protection officer
  • Any other person on behalf of the aggrieved person[4]

This complaint can be filed against any of the following:

  • Any adult male who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved (husband or male partner)
  • Relative of the husband or the male partner, in case of relationship in the nature of marriage[5]

Relief provided under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The act seeks to protect women from violence, and therefore, the Magistrate holds the authority to provide relief. Some of the actions that the magistrate can undertake, keeping in mind the well-being of the aggrieved woman are:

  • The Magistrate can direct the aggrieved and the respondent to singly or jointly undergo counseling [6]
  • In case the magistrate is satisfied that the circumstances seek so, the trial proceedings may be conducted in-camera[7]
  • The Magistrate also has to ensure that the aggrieved has the right to reside in a shared household and that she is not excluded or evicted from it [8]
  • The Magistrate may also pass a protection order in favor of the aggrieved[9]
  • Monetary relief can be granted by the magistrate, directing the respondent to meet the expenses or losses suffered by the aggrieved person[10]
  • The Magistrate may also grant temporary custody of children to the aggrieved [11]

This Act also directs the Government to appoint Protection Officers and provide access to a shelter home and medical facilities to the aggrieved.

Section 498A of IPC

The aggrieved has a right to file a complaint under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. Section 498A entails the matter of husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty. This section defines cruelty as:

(a)any wilful conduct which is of such a nature as is likely to drive the woman to commit suicide or to cause grave injury or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical) of the woman; or

(b) harassment of the woman where such harassment is with a view to coercing her or any person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any property or valuable security or is on account of failure by her or any person related to her to meet such demand.[12]

This section can be jointly applied in cases of domestic violence wherever necessary to file a complaint against the respondent.[13]

Limitations of the Act

One of the major limitations of the dowry protection act is how it fails to bring upon any criminal liability over the perpetrator of domestic violence. This act once again lays more emphasis on the stability of marriage than the wellbeing of the woman involved. Some of these atrocities committed against women can be charged under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code; however, matters like marital rape are conveniently left unaddressed. Many actions under the purview of domestic violence do not have any criminal implications.

Conclusion

The issue of Domestic violence is of the foremost causes of concern regarding the safety and liberty of women in modern India. Despite its loopholes, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act is of immense importance. Addressing the violence against women in private spaces is one of the first steps that we have to take for the upliftment of women in society.

[1] Report on Domestic Violence, NHFS-3, Volume 1

[2] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 3

[3] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 3

[4] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 12(1)

[5] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 2(q)

[6] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 14

[7] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 16

[8] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 17

[9] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 18

[10] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 20

[11] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 21

[12] The Indian Penal Code, s 498(a)

[13] The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, s 5(e)

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