In Indian society, domestic violence against women is not an uncommon siting. A plethora of women face it in their lives, and most of them are so accustomed to it that they don’t even end up reporting it. Yet, it can not be denied that many people continue to face domestic violence. In fact, the upcoming movie ‘Thappad’ is all about a woman standing up against her husband who slapped her. It is a prime example of what is to be done in case you become a victim of this horrendous activity. The National Family Health Survey (NHFS-4), released by the Union Health Ministry, reported that every third woman in India, since the age of fifteen faces domestic violence of some form. It also reported that 31% of married women have faced physical, sexual, or emotional violence by their spouses. The major issue is that out of these hardly 10% actually reported this violence. Clearly, it is a major issue that needs to be dealt with and women need to realise their rights and how can they protect them. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was introduced to deal with such cases. Who can file a case under this Act and against who? The complaint of domestic violence can be filed by the ‘aggrieved person’. Section 2 of the Act defines this term. It means a woman who has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent (a man in a domestic relationship with such women) and alleges that he has inflicted domestic violence upon her. Domestic Relationship refers to a relationship between two people who live or have lived together in a shared household, and are related by: 1. Marriage, 2. A relationship in the nature of marriage (like live-in relationships), 3. Adoption, 4. Are family members, 5. Are related through blood relations. Shared household as mentioned in this clause is the house belonging to or taken on rent by the man, the house in which the man and woman lived together with shared rent, or the house in which the man and woman lived along with his joint family. However, it must be mentioned here that not all live-in relationships are covered under the Act. There are certain requirements that must be fulfilled. D. Velusamy v. D. Patchiammal. These are: 1. Both parties must behave like husband and wife; 2. They must have attained the legal age of marriage; 3. They should qualify to enter into marriage; 4. They must voluntarily live together in the same place for a significant amount of time; 5. They must have lived together in a significant household. It was also explained that if a man ‘keeps’ a woman for the purpose of using her for sexual purposes and/or as a servant, it won’t qualify as a relationship like that of marriage. Duty of the court while dealing with cases under the Act In the case of Krishna Bhatacharjee vs Sarathi Choudhury And Anr., the court laid down some guidelines that all courts must follow while dealing with a case under this Act. These are: 1. The court must give the decision keeping in mind that the helpless aggrieved person has approached the court in compelling circumstances. 2. It should also be ensured that the court scrutinizes the facts from all angles. It must take efforts to ensure whether the plea advanced by the respondent to nullify the grievances of the aggrieved person is legally and factually correct. 3. The court of law must uphold the truth and aim at delivering proper justice 4. Before throwing a petition at the threshold on the grounds of maintainability, the court must see that the aggrieved person is not faced with a situation of non-adjudication. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which was implemented in October 2006 is very promising legislation that combines civil remedies and criminal procedures to provide effective remedies to the women who become victims of domestic violence. The act provides for protection officers, medical facilities, free of cost orders, etc. which helps the aggrieved women in protecting themselves and their loved ones.

 

With Regards

Ms.Shireen Sultana

Internship Trainee-Indian Media Council (IMC)