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From Awareness to Action: Decoding the Domestic Violence Act

An appeal to the Court of Session can be filed within 30 days from the date on which the order made by the Magistrate is served on the parties.
01:00 AM Mar 16, 2024 IST | MUNEEB RASHID MALIK
from awareness to action  decoding the domestic violence act
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The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) was passed by the Parliament to protect the women from the acts of domestic violence and to provide a remedy for the women from being victims of any kind of violence occurring within the family. This legislation guarantees the effective protection of women’s rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and provides extensive support to the women, who are victims of any kind of violence in the domestic sector.

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What is Domestic Violence?

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Domestic violence is a term which not only talks about physical harm but also includes many other kinds of mistreatments such as emotional, mental, sexual, financial, and other forms of violence that may occur within the family. Additionally, domestic violence is any behaviour intended to force the victim or her family members to comply with illegal demands, like dowry.

What are the different kinds of abuses covered under the Act?

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Physical abuse is covered by the Act which includes acts like assault that puts a person’s life in danger. Sexual abuse refers to any sexual activity that infringes upon a woman’s dignity. Insults, mockery, humiliation, and threats that cause emotional distress are forms of verbal and emotional abuse. Economic abuse can take the form of asset disposal, financial resource deprivation, etc.

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 What is Shared Household?

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Shared household is where the aggrieved person lives in a domestic relationship, either singly or along with the man. It also means a household where a woman has lived but has been thrown out. The household can be owned or tenanted and may belong to either of the parties or both jointly.

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 What is a Domestic Relationship?

A domestic relationship is a relationship between two people who are living together or have previously resided in a shared household. It can be through marriage such as wives, daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, widows and any other members of the family; or blood relationship such as mothers, sisters or daughters; and other domestic relationships including through adoption, live-in relationships, and women in bigamous relationship or victims of legally invalid marriages.

 Who can file a complaint in matters of domestic violence?

A woman who has been subjected to an act of domestic violence by the offender, can file a complaint on behalf of herself, or through the protection officer or by anybody else on her behalf.

 Who are Service Providers and Protection Officers?

Service Providers are voluntary organizations who work in the field of domestic violence and provide assistance to the women who are victims of domestic violence. The protection officer is appointed by the Central Government to act as facilitator between a woman and the court.

 Against whom can a complaint be filed?

A complaint can be filed against the husband, any male or female relative of the husband, male partner (in a live-in relationship), who has perpetrated violence.

 What is the procedure to file a complaint of domestic violence?

An aggrieved woman can file a complaint of domestic violence in three ways i.e. she may approach the police station and get her complaint registered, or, she can file a complaint before the protection officer or service provider, or, she can directly approach the magistrate.

 What is a Domestic Incident Report (DIR)?

A DIR is prepared by a Protection Officer or Service Provider and it acts as the foundational report for handling cases of domestic abuse, much like a First Information Report.

 What information is required for DIR?

The complainant’s contact information and personal details, information about the respondents, information about the aggrieved party’s children, information about instances of verbal, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse, etc.

 Which court has the jurisdiction to entertain the matter?

The court of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate has the jurisdiction to try the offences under the Act within the local limits of which the person aggrieved, resides permanently or temporarily, or carries on business or is employed or, where the respondent resides or carries on business or is employed or, where the cause of action has arisen.

 What Reliefs can be granted by the Court?

The magistrate, after hearing both the parties, may direct them to undergo counseling, either singly or jointly. It may be directed that the woman shall not be evicted or excluded from the shared household. The magistrate has the power to issue a protection order for the protection of woman. Monetary relief can also be granted to meet the expenses incurred by the aggrieved women and any child of the aggrieved women. An order for temporary custody of any child to the aggrieved woman can also be issued by the magistrate. The magistrate may direct the respondent to pay compensation and damages for the injuries caused. A residence order may also be passed forbidding entry of the respondent into particular areas, direct the respondent’s eviction if necessary, etc.

 When can a Magistrate pass an ex parte order?

When the Magistrate determines that the respondent has committed domestic violence, or there is a reasonable suspicion that the respondent will commit domestic violence, he has the power to issue an ex parte order (done in the interests of one side only).

 When can an appeal be filed against the order of a Magistrate?

An appeal to the Court of Session can be filed within 30 days from the date on which the order made by the Magistrate is served on the parties.

 When can proceedings be held in camera?

The Magistrate may conduct the proceedings in camera, i.e., the proceedings behind the doors and not in an open court, if he considers that the circumstances of the case so warrant, and if either party to the proceedings so desires.

Muneeb Rashid Malik is an Advocate practicing before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and tweets @muneebmalikrash.

(The contents of this article are intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.)

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