Domestic Violence | 03
In this episode, Advocate Pallavi Pratap explains the provisions in the Indian legal system to protect women in cases of domestic violence.
Hi! My name is Pallavi Pratap and welcome to Law Simplified, from Motor Mouth Podcasts. The idea behind this podcast is to simplify law for everyone so that you know your basic rights and how to take protection under the law in every day life.
Thank you for joining me in this episode and today my endeavour is to provide basic information on Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 or what is popularly known as ‘Domestic Violence Act’.
Violence against women in India covers many aspects− sexual, social, personal, and public. As you handle one, another ugly aspect rears its head. One of the ugliest aspects is domestic violence. It is definitely difficult to know the extent of domestic violence since the crime mostly goes unacknowledged or unreported. Statistics shows that in India, about once every five minutes, an incident of Domestic Violence is reported.
In 2005, a new law, called the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was passed to protect women from domestic violence. The law has many unique features− it expanded the definition of domestic violence and brought under its protection all women who are in a domestic relationship, including mothers, sisters, and daughters.
Let’s breakdown the law and understand how it protects women from domestic violence.
Domestic violence under this law can include different kinds of abuse and violence. It is any kind of abuse which causes harm to you, your health and well-being. It could include harassing or hurting you or your relatives for dowry, money, or property. The threat to harass or hurt also falls under domestic violence. It also includes any act which causes you physical or mental pain. Being abusive could mean physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional as well as economic abuse. It does not need to be an actual action- not doing something can also be a form of domestic violence. For example, not giving you money to run the household or for the children would fall under the definition of economic abuse as per this act.
If you are a woman and any person with whom you are in a domestic relationship with is being abusive, you are a victim or an ‘aggrieved person’. This law aims to protect women who are living in the same house with people who are related through:
- Blood relationships: mother-son, father-daughter, sister-brother, widows
- Marriage: husband-wife, daughter-in-law with father-in-law/ mother-in-law and other members of the family, sister-in-law with other members of the family, widows with other members of the family;
- Adoption – for ex. adopted daughter and father;
- Relationships in the nature of marriage: live-in relationships, legally invalid marriages (for e.g. husband has married a second time, husband and wife are related by blood etc.)
The people need not currently be living in a shared home. For example, if the husband threw the wife out of their home, it would still be a shared home.
The victim can make the complaint. In the event that you are not the victim, you can approach the Protection officer. As someone who has acted in good faith, no one can pull you up in a court of law even if it turns out the information you have given is wrong. In addition, instead of heading to the Protection Officer, the victim can approach the Service Provider to make a complaint. The Service Provider then records the complaint (domestic incident report’) and sends a copy to the local Magistrate and the Protection Officer.
If you as a victim of domestic violence want a more permanent solution to your problems, you can go to the court. The type of judges who are responsible for this Act are called ‘Magistrates’. The victim need not make the application herself. The Protection Officer or any other person on her behalf can make the application. One of the things the Magistrate must keep in mind is the complaint which was first recorded by the Protection Officer or the Service Provider.
In addition to filing a domestic violence case under this Act, the victim can also go to court and file a normal civil case. The Magistrate must start the case within 3 days from the date of the application. Once the Magistrate has started the case, she must try her best to finish the case within 60 days.
Under the Domestic Violence Act, you can apply for any of the reliefs recognized under this law i.e. a protection order, monetary relief like maintenance, custody order, residence order or a compensation order. The victim can use the services of certain official Service Providers. The victim can approach a Protection Officer and ask them for help. The victim can ask for free legal aid. The victim can also file a criminal complaint under the general law on crimes (the Indian Penal Code, 1860). Please note that filing a criminal complaint can put the offenders in jail for up to three years. The victim must have suffered a graver degree of abuse (i.e. cruelty) to be able to file a complaint.
In addition, state designated shelter homes and hospitals have a duty to provide a safe place to stay and medical help to every victim who approaches them.
There is most certainly an advise I would like to leave you with. Increasingly we have noticed that false and frivolous domestic violence cases are filed to reach settlement which is totally uncalled for. It only results into building of mistrust in a relationship which is as it is gasping for air. My two bits, please refrain from filing scandalous complaints which you will have difficulty in proving. If there is a genuine complaint, by all means, file a complaint and initiate criminal action also because the law has been enacted for precisely that purpose. And remember it extends to all female members of the shared household. So to think that one woman will be given preference over the other, is untrue.
I hope this episode has helped in clarifying certain questions relating to the Domestic Violence Act. Here is Pallavi signing off from today’s episode. Until next time, stay safe and do write in with your queries. Take Care.