Mom-in-law safe from Domestic Violence Act
BANGALORE: Can a woman try another woman under the provisions of the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005? No, says the Karnataka High Court.
Clearing this confusion, the division Bench comprising Justice K L Manjunath and Justice B S Patil said a complaint under this act against her mother-in-law or sister-in-law or women relatives can be registered, but the police can initiate action against them (respondents) only under Section 498A of the IPC or any other suitable enactments of law.
The Bench gave this clarification while dealing with the petition filed by one Leelavati.
In respect of residential rights, custody rights or protection, women can file complaints against only male members under the Domestic Violence Act but not against female members like mother-in-law or sisters-in-law or any others, the division Bench clarified with regard to ambiguity of the meaning of the word relative, in the proviso in section 2(q) of the Act.
Leelavati, a resident of Okalipuram, had filed complaints against her husbandBhaskar, father-in-law Murugeshan, mother-in-law Nalini and sister-in-law Kavitha under this Act, before the magistrate court. This was challenged by her husband and others. The fast track court had ordered that except Bhaskar's, other names should be dropped from the complaint.
Leelavati challenged this decision before the high court. The single bench, while concurring with the fast track court, referred this matter to the division bench for clarification.
Women can't be respondents: HC
Bangalore, September 9, DHNS:
In a judgment that is bound to have wide social implications, a division bench of the High Court has ruled that a case filed under the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 cannot include women as respondents.
A division bench comprising Justice K L Manjunath and Justice B S Patil has ruled that "the definition of the term 'respondent' as defined under Section 2(q) of the Act, does not include a female relative of the husband or the male partner of the aggrieved female or a female living in a relationship of the nature of a marriage."
The ruling stands apart from the ruling of four other High Courts of the country including the Delhi High Court. The matter had been referred to the division bench by a single judge to define the term 'respondent' following a petition filed by Leelavathi S against her father-in-law Murugesh, her mother-in-law Nalini and her sister-in-law Kavitha under the Domestic Violence Act.
The debate on the inclusion or exclusion of women as respondents under this Act has been a long standing one. Many have felt that the Act, which was meant to protect women also has become a tool for targeting women. The Indian Penal Code already allows a case to be filed against women under Section 498A for dowry harassment. A complaint filed under Domestic Violence Act also provides for the respondent to be removed from the shared household or can be prevented from entering the household