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Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 states that what constitutes domestic violence according to which domestic violence shall include: –
In the present day scenario, complaint can be filed against any adult male member. Who is in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against. Whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act including the other family members such as mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law etc. or any relative of the husband or male partner.
But in a recent judgement of 2010 in the case of Kusum Lata Sharma vs State & Anr. The Bombay High court held that a sister cannot file a complaint against her brother’s wife, or her own sister. A mother-in-law if subjected to domestic violence by daughter-in-law cannot file a case against her daughter-in-law.
However she can file a complaint case against her son mentioning the name of the daughter-in-law as the agent of her son.
Yes, domestic violence can be said to be gender neutral in India. Because according to the research and studies it is clear that the number of men and women who commit violence toward each other is equal with respect to the analysis of these studies. But apart from this it has also been found out that women are more likely to report act of violence then men in India.
The reason for the violence both in men and women are different. As men turn into violent when they feel a sense of powerlessness such as when they are not able to overcome what they want. And women turn violent when they are frustrated or do not get their spouse’s attention.
Hence it can be said that men and women are both the victims of domestic violence and hence an inclusive approach must be taken to help families resolve conflict.
Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act defines “aggrieved person” as any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent.
The Domestic Violence Act not only covers those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser. But it also covers those women who have lived together in a shared household and are related by consanguinity, marriage of through a relationship in the nature of marriage or adoption .
Even those women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women, or living in any other relationship with the abuser are entitled to legal protection under the Domestic Violence Act.
The term shared household is defined under the Domestic Violence Act as a household. The person aggrieved lives or at any stage has lived in a domestic relationship either singly or along with the respondent and includes such a household whether owned or tenanted either jointly by the aggrieved person. And the respondent, or owned or tenanted by either of them in respect of which either the aggrieved person or the respondent. Both jointly or singly have any right, title, interest or equity and includes such a household which may belong to the joint family of which the respondent is a member, irrespective of whether the respondent or the aggrieved person has any right, title or interest in the shared household.
In the case of S.R. Batra & Another Vs. Smt. Taruna Batra, the Supreme Court with reference to definition of shared household under Section 2(s) of the Domestic Violence Act. It stated that the definition of ‘shared household’ in Section 2(s) of the Act is not very happily worded, and appears to be the result of clumsy drafting requires to be interpreted in a sensible manner.
A wider meaning to an “aggrieved person” under Section 2(a) of the Domestic Violence Act was conferred by the Supreme Court in the case of D. Veluswamy v. D. Patchaiammal, wherein the Court enumerated five ingredients of a live in relationship as follows:
The Supreme Court also observed that not all live-in-relationships will amount to a relationship in the nature of marriage to get the benefit of Domestic Violence Act. To get such benefit the conditions mentioned above shall be fulfilled and this has to be proved by evidence.
Status of a Keep- The Court in the case further stated that if a man has a ‘keep’ whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and/or a servant it would not be a relationship in the nature of marriage.
In this case, the Court also referred to the term “palimony” which means grant of maintenance to a woman who has lived for a substantial period of time with a man without marrying and is then deserted by him.
It defines “respondent” as any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act:
Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.
In view of the definition of the term respondent covering adult male person, the judiciary has time and again been confronted with the argument that an aggrieved person can file complain under the Domestic Violence Act against an adult male person only and not against the female relatives of the husband i.e. mother-in-law, sister-in-law.
However, the Supreme Court in the case of Sandhya Wankhede vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wnakhede put ot rest the issue by holding that the proviso to Section 2(q) does not exclude female relatives of the husband or male partner from the ambit of a complaint that can be made under the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act. Therefore, complaints are not just maintainable against the adult male person but also the female relative of such adult male.