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Women can be charged under Domestic Violence Act: Court

Female members of a family can be charged under the Domestic Violence Act in case of harassment of a woman, a Delhi court has said.

New Delhi: Female members of a family can be
charged under the Domestic Violence Act in case of harassment
of a woman, a Delhi court has said.

The order assumes importance in the wake of raging debate
whether the law enacted for the welfare of women can be used
against them or not, as different High Courts have expressed
"conflicting views".

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau, while giving an
interpretation of the provisions for protection of women in
the Domestic Violence Act, 2005, said the law provided that a
wife can file complaint against her husband and his relatives,
which include both males and females.

"Section 2 Clause (Q) of the Act, which provides 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`. The provision
includes both male and females," the judge said.

The judge, however, noted that different High Courts have
taken "conflicting views" on the issue of whether the female
members of a family can be covered under the Domestic Violence
Act or not.

"A view which is in consonance with and fulfils the
objective of the Act has to be followed. A meaningful
interpretation has to be given so as to ensure that the
purpose of the Act is not defeated," the court said.

It, however, noted that there may be cases where the
provisions of the Act are abused by roping in all members of
the family, who may have "no concern" with the matrimonial
disputes between the husband and the wife.

The court noted that in this regard the view of some of
the High Courts including the Madhya Pradesh High Court is
that such an application filed against the female members is
not maintainable.

However, the Kerala High Court has held that the first
part of the definition would cover only the adult male
persons, but the proviso to the same would cover any relative
of the husband, both male and female.

It shall be open to the trial court in such cases to
direct the deletion of such parties, the judge said.

The court passed these observations while rejecting a
revision petition of certain women members of a family who
challenged an order of a Metropolitan Magistrate dismissing
their plea to remove their names from a complaint filed under
the Domestic Violence Act.

"Trial court cannot be expected to continue with such
proceedings against such family members who have been
malafidely roped in but at the same time, the trial court is
not required to jump to any such conclusions of malafides on
mere asking of the respondents before it," the court said.

The trial courts could definitely remove the names of any
member of the family from the list of accused if it reached to
a conclusion on merit that the allegations against them were
false and not sustainable, it said.


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