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Domestic Violence

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What is Domestic Violence?

In our Indian society, domestic violence against women is not a surprising siting. As almost every third women face this thing in her life, and most of them get so habitual to it that they do not even prefer reporting it. Hence, it cannot be denied that many women continue to face domestic violence even after stringent laws and regulations.

According to the NHFS -4 (National Family Health Survey), released by the Union Health Ministry, every third woman in India, since the age of fifteen years, faces some or the other form of domestic violence. Further, it was also reported that 31 percent of the married women had suffered sexual, physical, or emotional violence or abuse by their spouses. However, the main issue is that out of these, barely 10 percent reported this violence.

Domestic Violence is a significant concern that requires to be dealt with, and women are needed to realize their rights and how they can protect them. Further, to deal with this issue, The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, was introduced by the government.

What is the Meaning of the term Domestic Violence?

Section 3 of the DV Act, 2005 clearly explains the term “domestic violence” in detail. As per this section, an act or omission will qualify as a domestic violence only if it –

    • Physical Abuse – The term physical abuse the means use of any sort of physical force against a woman such that she suffers from a bodily injury or hurt. Further, the term physical abuse includes
      • criminal intimidation (threaten to cause hurt),
      • physical assault and
      • criminal force (use of force upon a person in order to cause him or her injury)

in the form of kicking, beating, abandoning, punching, the aggrieved person in a dangerous place, forcing her to leave her matrimonial home, using physical force in sexual situations, making use of weapons to threaten her, causing injury to her children, etc.

  • Sexual Abuse - This abuse is a form of physical force and comprises of any act in which a woman is forced or coerced to do any unsafe, unwanted, or degrading sexual activity. This abuse also includes calling her by sexual names, or hurting her with different objects and weapons while engaged in any sexual activity and also includes forced sex even by a spouse or an intimate partner with whom she has consensual sex.
  • Emotional Abuse - Not all the abusive relations involve violence and physical hurt. As many women too face emotional abuse, which is parallelly destructive. This is comprised of verbal abuse such as yelling name ­calling, isolating, intimidating, blaming, showcasing dominating behaviour, insulting, or repeatedly criticizing her.
  • Economic Abuse - Economic abuse mainly comprises of a woman not being given enough money by her husband in order to maintain herself and her children, by way of buying food, clothes, and medicines, etc. This abuse also embraces not allowing women to take up employment. Besides this, depriving her of financial possessions she is eligible to under any custom or law, forcing her to be out of the house where she resides by not giving her rent, limiting her access to the shared household also falls under this category. It also comprises of disposing or alienating her any movable or immovable assets, valuables, shares or securities and other properties in which she has an interest.

What are the features of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005?

The following listed are the features of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 –

  • Any person can file the Domestic Violence complaint for the aggrieved party. The term any person includes the neighbour, relatives, social worker.
  • Every woman has a right to reside in the shared household that, too, without the fear of being cast out of the house. Further, not only she has the right or live to reside in a shared household, but also a part of it can be allotted to her for personal use even if no legal entitlement exists.
  • The respondent may be restricted from entering the room or area allotted to the concerned aggrieved person or from having any sort of communication, including oral, written, personal, electronic, or telephonic contact.
  • This act also protects and safeguards from the events that are likely to happen in the future.
  • Speedy justice is expected by this act as the first hearing must take place within three days starting from the date when the complaint is filed, and it should be disposed of within sixty days of the first hearing.

Who are all eligible to file a case under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005?

The “aggrieved person” can file a complaint regarding the domestic violence under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Further, the term aggrieved person is defined under Section 2 of the Act. Aggrieved person means a woman who has been in a “domestic relationship” with the respondent and claims that he has inflicted domestic violence upon her.

Further, it is significant to note that even those women who are the sisters, mothers, single women, widows, or living in any other relationship with the abuser are qualified for legal protection under the DV Act, 2005.

Furthermore, a child is also qualified to get relief under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. As the mother of such a child can file an application for her minor child (whether male or female). Also, in cases where the mother files an application for herself in the court, the children can also be added as the co-applicants.

What is the Procedure prescribed under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005?

The following are the steps involved in the procedure prescribed under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 –

  • Information about the Domestic Violence - The following listed are the people to whom the information concerning Domestic Violence can be given -
    • Police Officer
    • Protection Officer
    • Service Provider (NGO)
    • Magistrate
  • Inform the Victim about the rights available to her - The following listed are the rights available with the victim of Domestic Violence. The protection officer shall communicate all the available rights to the concerned victim –
    • Such women have a right to file an application for obtaining relief in the form of a residence order, protection order, monetary relief, compensation order, custody order, compensation order.
    • She also has a right to make use of the services provided by the available service providers like NGOs.
    • Such women also have a right to make use of the services given in the protection officers.
    • These women have a right to avail of free legal services under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987. 
    • They also have the right to file a criminal case against the respondent or any of his family members under the provisions of section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code.

It is also significant to note that if in case the appointed protection officer failed to perform his duties or does not perform his assigned duties, then he or she will be liable for imprisonment up to one year and the fine of Rs. 20000.

    • Making of the DIR by the Protection Officer - Upon the receipt of a complaint regarding domestic violence, the appointed Protection Officer or the concerned Service Provider is required to prepare a DIR (Domestic Incident Report) in the Form 1 (as provided under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act) and submit the same to the Magistrate along with the copies of the same to the police officer in charge of the said police station.

      If in case the woman so desires, the Protection Officer appointed or the concerned Service Provider can assist the said woman in filing the applications for claiming reliefs along with a copy of the DIR.

    • Application to the Magistrate - The following listed are the individuals who can file an application under the DV Act, 2005 –
      • An aggrieved person, or
      • A Protection Officer, or
      • Any other person on behalf of the aggrieved person can file an application to the magistrate.
      • The service provider and the protection officer must provide all required assistance to the woman who is a victim of domestic violence.
    • Notice to the Respondent - The following listed are the individuals against whom a complaint under the DV Act, 2005 can be filed –
      • Any adult male member who has been living in a domestic relationship with the concerned woman
      • Relatives of the husband or the male partner
      • The term relatives include both the male and female relatives of the concerned male partner (after the apex court judgment in the case named Sandhya Wankhede v. Manoj Bhimrao).

Further, it is significant to note that once the Magistrate has decided the date of the first hearing, a notice regarding the same shall be given to the appointed protection officer. This protection officer will inform the informant and any other such person, specified by the magistrate. Furthermore, the same shall be done by the concerned protection officer within a period of two days starting from the date of receipt until and unless the Magistrate provides an extension.

  • Reliefs granted by the Magistrate - The following listed are the reliefs which may be granted by the magistrate under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 –
    • Direct the aggrieved person or the respondent, either singly or jointly, to undergo counselling
    • Direct that the woman shall not be excluded or evicted from the said household or from any part of it by passing a Residence Order. The following listed may also be included in the Residence Order passed by the magistrate –
      • Restrain the respondent from either dispossessing or distributing the possessions that belonged to the aggrieved person.
      • Direct the respondent to take away himself from the concerned shared household.
      • Restrain the respondent or any of his relatives from entering the shared household of the parties where the aggrieved person resides.
      • Restrain the respondent from relinquishing his rights in the concerned shared household.
      • Restrain the respondent from disposing of the said shared household.
    • If considered essential, the proceedings may also be directed to be conducted in camera.
    • May issue the Protection order to provide protection to the woman. The following listed in the protection restricts the respondent from -
      • Committing the act of domestic violence
      • Abetting in the commission of Domestic Violence
      • Entering the place of school, employment, etc., of the aggrieved person
      • Attempting to have a communication with the aggrieved person
      • Alienate any bank accounts or lockers, assets, enjoyed by either both the parties or the respondent individually, including her Stridhan.
      • Causing violence to any person who assisted the aggrieved person and gave protection from domestic violence.
      • Committing any other such act which is mentioned in the order given.
    • Grant monetary relief in order to meet the expenses sustained and losses suffered by the said aggrieved person and any child of that aggrieved person as a result of the domestic violence.
    • May also grant custody orders, i.e., temporary custody of the child or children will be handed over to the aggrieved person.
    • Grant compensation or damages for the injuries caused. Such damages or compensation may also include the mental torture and the emotional distress caused due to the acts of domestic violence committed by that respondent.
    • In case there is a breach of any order passed by the Magistrate, the same will be considered as an offense that is punishable under the law. The respondent, in this case, shall be liable for imprisonment up to the term exceeding one year or fine of maximum Rs. 20,000

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is the meaning of the term Domestic Relationship?

    The term Domestic Relationship means a relationship between two individual who live or have lived together in a “shared household,” and are associated by either of the following listed below-
    1. Marriage,
    2. A relationship in the sort of marriage (like the live-in relationships), 
    3. Adoption, 
    4. Are family members,
    5. Are related by way of blood relations.

  • 2. Are Live-in Relationships covered under the Domestic Violence At, 2005?

    Yes, the concept of Live-in Relationships is covered under this act. However, it is significant to note that not all live-in relationships are covered under this act. Further, the landmark judgment named Velusamy v. D. Patchiammal provided certain requirements that are to be fulfilled by the couples in live-in relationships in order to come within the ambit of the DV Act, 2005. The following listed are the conditions required –
    1. Both the parties concerned must behave like a husband and wife.
    2. Both parties must have attained the legal age of marriage.
    3. They must qualify to enter into marriage.
    4. They must willingly live together in the same place for a substantial amount of time.
    5. They should have lived together in a significant household.
    Further, it was also clarified that if a man ‘keeps’ a woman for sexual purpose or as a servant, then it will not qualify as a relationship like that of marriage.

  • 3. What is the meaning of the term Shared Household?

    Furthermore, the term Shared household as mentioned in this clause refers to the house belonging to or taken on rental by the man (respondent), the house in which both the man and woman lived together with the shared rent, or the house in which both the man and woman lived together with his joint family.

  • 4. Is Domestic Violence covered under different Acts also?

    Yes, There are various kind of laws under Indian Penal Code which deals with the violence against women like section 498-A of IPC, Section 306 , Section 319 to Section 326 of Indian Penal Code, Section 497 and Section 494 of IPCetc..There are other laws also for protection of women against violence like Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 , The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 .

  • 5. Can domestic violence a valid ground for divorce?

    Yes, it is a strong ground for divorce. And infact, guilty person deserve harsh punishment under various Acts.

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