The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act,2005
India has a long history of violence against women. Men generally think of it as their right to hit the women, particularly their wives. It was usually done to demand dowry from the parents of the wife. However, some men also did it for their pleasure or for taking out their anger on their wives, which is completely unjustified. The rising domestic violence in the country even after passing the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the strict provisions of the Section 498A and Section 304B of the Indian Penal Code, led the government to pass the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. There are various rights given to the women in the aforementioned Act for their protection.
Definition of Domestic Violence:
Section 3 of the Act defines domestic violence as “any omission, act, commission or conduct of the respondent, that has the following effects;
It harms or injures or endangers the safety of health, limb or life of the aggrieved person,
Harasses, harms or endangers the aggrieved person in order to force/coerce her to impart with any valuable security
Threatens any person related to the aggrieved person.
Causes mental or physical harm to such aggrieved person.
It must be noted that domestic violence or abuse under the Act also includes physical, sexual, verbal(insults, name-calling etc.) emotional or economic abuse. It can also be committed by not giving the aggrieved person the required standards of living or the facilities available in the house.
Section 2(a) defines an aggrieved person as any woman who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the respondent and is then alleging any instance of domestic violence upon her by the respondent.
Protection Officers and Service Providers under the Act:
The provisions for Protection Officers and Service Providers are given under Sections 9 and 10.
Section 9: It defines the duties and functions of the Protection Officers. It includes assisting the Magistrate in making a Report of the domestic violence incident, filing of an application if the complainant asks for the same, providing for a list of shelter homes and providing legal counselling to the aggrieved person. Getting the victim medically examined is also the duty of the Protection Officer.
Section 10: Any voluntary organisation or any society can register itself as a service provider under the Act if it wishes to provide any kind of help to the victim. This can include medical, shelter or any kind of help.
Orders and Reliefs:
The provisions for orders and reliefs have been given under Section 14-22.
Section 14: It provides for the Magisterial powers of recommending or directing counselling to either or both the parties.
Section 15: It provides for the assistance of a Welfare Expert who knows the family well or who is a person interested in the welfare of both the parties.
Section 16: The Magistrate has the power to conduct the proceedings in-camera if he deems fit to do so.
Section 17: It provides for the Right to reside in a shared household and the aggrieved party cannot be evicted from the house if the Magistrate gives such an Order.
Section 18: The Magistrate may also provide for protection orders for the aggrieved person to protect her from the violence of the respondent.
Section 19: It has the provision of Residence Orders and the respondent cannot throw away the possessions of the aggrieved person.
Section 20: It has the provision for monetary relief for any destruction caused by the acts of the respondent to the aggrieved party.
Section 21: A temporary custody of the child can be given to the aggrieved person.
Section 22: Any compensation in addition to the above reliefs can be given by the Magistrate if he deems fit.
Domestic Violence and Live-In Relationships:
In D. Patchaiamal v D. Velusamy, the Supreme Court has observed that not all live-in-relationships will come under the Act. Certain guidelines such as the living of both the partners as spouses in front of the society and their behaviour will be taken note of, there must be legal age of marriage for both of them, they must live and co-habit as married spouses live, et al.
It must be noted that the present Act is enough to deal with the domestic violence cases in the country if implemented well and thus can bring down the domestic violence cases in the country, significantly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sanighdha is currently a student at the Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
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