Adv. Pratibha Bangera (Divorce and Family court lawyer) explains how domestic violence in families separates the family bond.
Is it really necessary to file PWDV complaint for family matters?
Domestic violence of any kind may deny a woman from enjoying a good family bond. Every citizen is entitled to have a good family life and dignity. How can a person suffer humiliation and not react. And why should any woman suffer the reckless violent behaviour of another family member?
Unfortunately there is no constitutional duty towards "Good Family behaviour or community behaviour" neither does our education system train families. Some educated and socially well settled persons also treat members of their family with violence. Giving and taking respect from family comes with personal responsibility and if it does not come, there are courts to help.
Can everyday fights of family be termed as Domestic violence?
No. Only those family fights that have a "criminal intention" to cause physical, emotional, mental, sexual or financial harm to "a woman" is unlawful. Including name calling for not having children or male child or alienating property or holding valuables or jewellery, or restricting movements or household facilities or even willful omission can be termed as abusive depending on overall facts and circumstances.
Is the PWDV Act only for protection of wife?
No. Every woman including mother or sister or daughter who is suffering within the family can file a DV complaint.
And should this complaint be only against men or other women also?
"DV" complaint can be filed against another woman including a mother-in- law or a sister-in-law in addition to other male members of family.
But can a mother-in-law also file a "DV" complaint against a daughter-in-law?
Earlier only a wife could file a "DV" complaint against a husband or his relatives but the Supreme Court has deleted the words "adult male" from the Act as its unconstitutional and if other ingredients of domestic violence are satisfied, a suffering mother-in-law can also file DV complaint against her daughter-in-law.
What is the procedure to file this complaint?
The police of area in which the suffering woman stays with her family acts upon her complaint and makes a "domestic incident report" but the police cannot provide any reliefs without a court order. The suffering woman therefore should get court order and seek implementation through police.
Why was the "PWDV Act" introduced when relief in Family court are almost similar?
A suffering woman needs protection orders. A registered company or cooperative society can also file a complaint on her behalf and no action can be taken against them for helping such woman. There are several shelter homes who take such distressed women by virtue of this Act.
Under the PWDV Act, there is an urgency made out to expedite hearing of these matters. The judiciary and police officers are given periodic sensitisation and awareness training. While family courts cases are for disputes between husband and wife, the "PWDV" complaints are responsibility of the State and police machinery to reduce criminal acts.
Is it not encouraging women to misuse this special right given under DV?
Every Act is introduced to reform laws. The use or misuse of these Acts are also checked from time to time as required and necessary. To ensure that these complaints have substance, the family is sent to police mediation center to resolve disputes amicably. There are Supreme Court guidelines for procedure and the Magistrate is also required to check the "domestic incident report" before registering the complaint.
While final decision is subject to trial and "proof of violence" the suffering woman gets immediate relief and financial support through court which directs husband to pay for monthly maintenance, child support, fees and residence for herself and her children.
Misuse of any law happens mostly because of wrongful means for which judiciary cannot be blamed. There are reliefs and remedies available even for false cases. Ignorance of law is no excuse.
What is the time frame for completion of DV cases and does the court complete such cases within that time?
A Magistrate is required to fix hearing date within three days of receipt of DV complaint and dispose off the entire application within 60 days. In most of the cases urgent reliefs are granted speedily but trial may delay or take time. The delay is caused due to reasons beyond control of court for reasons such as husband does not receive service or remains absent or evades filing replies on time. In such cases also the court passes ex parte orders. There are remedies available which parties should exercise even for such delays.
Is it necessary to file DV complaint along with 498 A case?
No. They are absolutely different category of cases.
Can a DV case be filed where husband and wife are residing outside India ?
Yes. An Indian woman residing outside the country can file a case in the country where she resides or even in India. But since the nature of this complaint is of criminal nature, she may have to remain present for important court dates and otherwise if she is a working woman, she may request for a video conference court appearance to address her issues. And in some case, even her other family members in India can initiate or proceed to appear in such case on her behalf.