Understand the Domestic Violence Act
What is the Domestic Violence Act?
Domestic violence Act came into force in 2005 and the basic purpose of this Act is to provide the protection to married women from the daily harassment which she has to face in her matrimonial home from her husband and in-laws. The Domestic Violence Act is secular legislation, akin to Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. It was enacted “to provide more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family”. An aggrieved person (women) under the Act can approach the Magistrate under Section 12 for the relief mentioned in Section 12(2).
What is Domestic relationship?
“Domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons (Husband-wife) who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household( matrimonial home, either rented of self-occupied) when they are related to by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.
Parliament’s intention by the 2005 Act was to secure the rights of aggrieved persons in the shared household, which could be tenanted by the Respondent (including a relative of the husband) or in respect of which the Respondent had jointly or singly any right, title, interest, or “equity”. For instance, a widow (or as in this case, a daughter in law, estranged from her husband) living with a mother-in-law, in premises owned by the latter, falls within a “domestic relationship”.
Against whom a Complaint can be filed?
In domestic violence Act, the aggrieved person (married women) can file the complaint against only an adult male person, who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person as the respondent and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under the Act. A female adult person cannot be a respondent in a complaint filed under the Act, as defined under the main clause. The scope of the respondent is widened by the proviso. As per the proviso, if a complaint is filed by an aggrieved wife or a female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage, a female relative of the husband or the male partner could also be the respondent. The question decided in both Ramadevi’s case and Vijayalekshmi Amma’s case was whether a female person could be a respondent in a complaint filed under Section 12 of the Act. In both the decisions, it was held that a female person could also be a respondent in a complaint filed under Section 12 of the Act, in view of the proviso to Section 2(q) of the Act and also in view of the other relevant provisions of the Act.
Relief under the Act
The magistrate before passing any order under section 12 of the Act consider the report of the protection officer and grant the following relief -:
1) Right to reside in a shared household- Section 17
2) Protection orders-Section 18
3) Residence order -Section 19
4) Monetary relief -Section 20
5) Custody orders- Section 21
6) Compensation orders- Section 22
7) Interim and ex parte orders – Section 23