Women who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family can seek protection under the ‘Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005’. This law for prevention of domestic violence aims to provide for more effective protection in such matters.
It includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse and injuries or harm, whether physical or mental caused to the aggrieved person or any other person related to her or for any unlawful demand for dowry or other property or valuable security.
Domestic Violence Law
Under this law for prevention of domestic violence, a women so aggrieved or any other person on her behalf or who has knowledge of such act of domestic violence may inform the Protection Officer, appointed by the State Government in each district, either orally or in writing.
In case domestic violence results in bodily injury, an aggrieved woman may ask the protection officer or service provider (a registered voluntary association or a registered company, whose objective is to protect rights and interests of women by lawful means) for medico-legal examination or provision of medical facility or aid. This medical report is to be submitted by the Protection Officer to the concerned Magistrate and also to the concerned police station. It is also, a duty of the Protection Officer and Service Providers to make available to the aggrieved person a safe shelter home, if requested.
A police officer, Protection Officer, service provider or Magistrate are all competent to assist and aid a women in such circumstances under this law for prevention of domestic violence. Where a complaint has been made to either of them or an incident of domestic violence occurs in their presence, It is their duty to inform the aggrieved woman of her right to make an application for obtaining a relief by way of a protection order, an order for monetary relief, a custody order, a residence order, a compensation order or more than one such order under this Act. Furthermore, of the availability of services of service providers and of the Protection Officers and her right to free legal services and aid.
Reliefs available to a victim of domestic violence:
- Protection order,
- Application for compensation or damages for Injuries,
- Order for monetary relief,
- Right to Reside in a Shared Household,
- Custody order,
- Residence order,
- Compensation order,
- A complaint under section 498A, of the Indian Penal Code on the ground of cruelty against the offender(s)
- Provision for individual or joint Counselling
- Return of Stridhan and Other Articles to the Aggrieved Person
An order of maintenance (for the aggrieved woman and her children, if any) may be passed as monetary relief. This includes an order under or in addition to an order of maintenance under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The monetary relief granted under this section shall be adequate, fair and reasonable and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person is accustomed. The Magistrate shall have-the power to order an appropriate lump sum payment or monthly payments of maintenance, as the nature and circumstances of the case may require.
Whenever any monetary relief is claimed, the Magistrate may grant interim monetary relief to the aggrieved party, and the opposite party has to comply with such an interim order during pendency of the proceedings.
The Magistrate may also impose any additional conditions or pass any other direction which he may deem reasonably necessary to protect or to provide for the safety of the aggrieved person or any child of such aggrieved person. The Magistrate may require from the opposite party to execute a bond, with or without sureties, for preventing the commission of further domestic violence.
If the other party tries to avoid appearing before the court of such Magistrate trying the domestic violence case either through non-appearance or having absented during the proceedings, an ex-parte order can be passed in favour of the aggrieved woman in respect of protection order, residence order, custody order, monetary relief order, compensation order, mentioned above.
An ex-parte order an application may be filed before the Court. Such an application is to be supported by an affidavit of the aggrieved person and can be passed if the Magistrate is satisfied that the application discloses that the opposite party is committing, has committed or there is likelihood that the opposite party may commit an act of domestic violence.S. 23
It is significant to note that the reliefs available under Prevention of Domestic Violence Act can be claimed in the proceedings going on before Civil Court, Family Court or Criminal Court. If the aggrieved person has already in her favour such an order in a petition for restitution of conjugal rights, annulment of marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship, custody of child or civil or criminal proceedings between the parties or other legal proceedings, it is her duty to inform the Magistrate about existence of such an order.
In case of change of circumstances since an order has been passed, an application for alteration, modification or revocation of any order passed under this Act may be moved. For example, in case of order of maintenance, Court may take into consideration subsequent change in the source of income or financial-needs of the opposite party or that of the applicant so as to modify the order passed earlier. Passing of a decree of divorce is another circumstance, which may call for modification or revocation of any order passed under this Act.
As per the procedure laid down under this Act all the proceedings are conducted by the Magistrate expeditiously so that applications are disposed of without any kind of delay. Notice of date of hearing is to be given to the Protection Officer. Protection Officer is to get the notice served, on the respondent-opposite party. The Magistrate is to make endeavour for disposal of an application within 60 days from the date of its first hearing taking into consideration any report regarding incident of domestic violence submitted by Protection Officer or the service provider.
This law for prevention of domestic violence further provides that the Court may lay down its own procedure for disposal of an Application to Magistrate seeking one or more reliefs under this Act or on an application seeking interim or ex-parte relief.
If the Magistrate considers that the circumstances of the case so warrant he may conduct proceedings in camera upon a request from the aggrieved person, or the opposite party. While proceedings are conducted in’ camera, general public is not allowed to be present in the Court room or at the place where the proceedings are to be conducted.
Furthermore, whenever a person feels aggrieved by an order passed by the Magistrate, he or she has a right to file an appeal against the order before the Court of Sessions within 30 days from the date of service of the order sought to be challenged.
Check out some basic Q&A’s on Domestic Violence during the Covid pandemic.