What is Domestic Violence as per Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA, 2005)?
As per law; any act, be it omission or commission or conduct against woman by any other male or female relative living in domestic relation, which harms, injures, harasses, threatens or endangers the aggrieved person is Domestic Violence as per the PWDVA, 2005. Domestic Violence can be Physical or Verbal and Emotional or Sexual or Economic. Being a gender-biased law, women use it against Husband/ Male partner and his relatives (both male and female relatives).
Which authorities can accept complaints under this Act?
A victim or any person having her safety in mind can approach, ‘Protection Officer’, ‘Service Provider’, ‘Local SHO’ or directly to ‘Magistrate’ under this Act. In all cases when complaint is made to any authority except Magistrate, they have to help the victim lodge a complaint in proper format to Magistrate. Generally, a complaint is made to a Magistrate at local Mahila Court under section 12.
Who is an ‘aggrieved person’ under this Act?
Any woman in a ‘domestic relationship’ who is alleges to have been subjected to Domestic Violence by her partner/ relative/ husband can be aggrieved person under this act.
What is “Domestic Relationship”?
The law explains “domestic relationship” as relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.
Relations through Consanguinity (Blood Relations) can be:
– Widows/ Spinsters living with extended family.
Relations through Marriage can be:
– Daughter-in-law with father-in-law/ mother-in-law
– Sister-in-law with any other member of the family
– Widows living in matrimonial home
Relations through Adoption can be same as that of Blood Relations except Mother-Son relation.
Relations in the nature of marriage:
– Females in Live-in Relationships (with certain limitations)
– Females in Invalid-Irregular Marriages
What is “Shared Household”?
– A shared household is where the aggrieved person lives or lived with the alleged offender, it can be house owned/ taken on rent/ where offender lives including a joint family house
– A rider is added by courts that in case the feud is between wife and husband only the house where the husband has a “stake” in above conditions will be treated as shared household.
What is the “Jurisdiction” of the case?
The jurisdiction of this case is considerably enlarged to include following:
– Where the aggrieved woman is residing temporarily or permanently. But this does not mean transient residence.
– Where the aggrieved woman is employed.
– Where the domestic violence was committed.
– Where the husband/ male partner/ offender/ respondent is residing.
Who is a “Respondent”?
A respondent is any person in a domestic relationship against whom the “aggrieved person” has sought a relief.
Who is a Protection Officer and what are his/ her duties?
A protection officer is a person appointed by the State Government, whose primary duty is to help the magistrate with the various duties of under the Protection of Domestic Violence Act. It also helps victims lodge complaints in proper format, which is known as “Domestic Incident Report” or “DIR”. Besides the same, the Protection Officer maintains a list of Shelter Homes, liaisons with the local Police Station for compliance of any orders/ protection of any or all victims, getting proper medical attention to the victims. The protection officer is only answerable to the Magistrate or the state government.
Can any action be taken against Protection Officer for filing “false” Domestic Incident Report?
The word false can be defined in two ways. One from the viewpoint of the complainant and the other from the viewpoint of the respondent.
In first instance, if the complainant has stated some facts and the same are missing from the DIR, the complainant can approach the Magistrate with the complaint.
However, if the respondent feels that the protection officer has not investigated the facts, the protection officer was not obliged to. The protection officer just has to fill the form as per the statement of the complainant.
What is a “Domestic Incidence Report”?
Whenever a complainant visits a Protection Officer or a Service provider, the Protection Officer prepares a report on a predefined format. This format is defined in the Act itself. This report is called Domestic Incident Report or DIR.
What is the definition of Physical Abuse?
Any act or conduct that harms or creates danger for life, limb, health of the complainant.
What is the definition of Emotional Abuse?
Insults, torture, taunting, threats etc which creates/ plays havoc with the emotional state of the complainant would be emotional abuse.
What is Economic Abuse?
Economic abuse can be taking control of money earned by a woman, not giving enough money to run household expenses or even preventing the woman from earning a living. It also includes prohibition or restriction to use/access resources and facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use/access by virtue of being in the domestic relationship with the respondent.
What is Sexual Abuse?
Forced Sex, humiliating sex, showing pornography against wishes of the victim, getting into unnatural sex is Sexual Abuse. Even a denial of sex to get a victim to do something is also under the definition of Sexual Abuse.
What reliefs can be sought by the victims under PWDVA, 2005.
Following reliefs which are in terms of monetary, protection, residential, child custody can be sought by victim or be granted to the victim and against the respondents.
– Protection Order: The magistrate can order the respondents to not repeat any act of violence of any sort. Remove himself from the shared household. Not visit the residence/ work place of the victim. Not to communicate with victim by any means.
– Monetary Orders: The magistrate can order the respondents to provide with maintenance/ medical expenses/ educational expenses/ rentals/ compensation for lost property, damages, mental and physical harassment, loss of earnings, any stridhan or money that the respondents have usurped from the victim.
– Residence Orders: The magistrate can order the respondents to provide the victim either their self acquired property or provide rental for equivalent property for the purpose of residence only. Such orders does not create any other rights in the favour of victim.
– Child Custody Order: The magistrate can grant temporary custody of the child/ ren to the victim under this Act.
What is the punishment for not following court orders under this Act?
Most of the orders which relates to money or money equivalents can be executed by the victim as envisaged in Criminal Procedure Code. The respondents against whom the orders have been passed, if fails to comply with such monetary orders, can have part of his wages or salary credited to the aggrieved person, have his properties attached failing which he can be imprisoned as well.
However, in case of breach of any protection order, the respondent can face a criminal trial under this act, the punishment under which is upto 2 years of imprisonment and fine.
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