author- Sailee Kale
Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that plagues societies worldwide, including India. In recognition of the urgent need to combat this menace and protect victims, the Indian government introduced amendments to its legal framework. Sections 144A and 144B were incorporated into the Indian Constitution to provide more comprehensive safeguards and support for victims of domestic violence. This article explores the significance of these provisions and their role in addressing the pressing problem of domestic violence in India.
Section 144A – Definition and Scope
Section 144A was introduced in 2005 as an amendment to the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). It defines domestic violence as any act, omission, or conduct that inflicts physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or economic abuse upon a woman. Furthermore, this section acknowledges the occurrence of abuse within various domestic relationships, including marriage, cohabitation, family, or any other intimate partnerships.
The scope of Section 144A extends to encompass physical, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse. This means that not only acts of physical violence but also emotional and economic manipulations that jeopardize a woman’s well-being and dignity are covered by this provision.
In the landmark case of Indra Sarma vs. VKV Sarma, the Supreme Court of India laid down a crucial interpretation of Section 144A. The court upheld that domestic violence need not be limited to physical abuse alone but can encompass a broad spectrum of abuses, including mental, emotional, and economic abuse. The court held that these acts must be judged based on their impact on the victim’s well-being and dignity, regardless of whether they caused visible physical harm.
This significant interpretation broadened the scope of domestic violence under Section 144A, recognizing that emotional and psychological harm can be equally devastating and must be addressed under the law. The ruling emphasized the importance of providing comprehensive protection to victims beyond just physical violence.
Section 144B – Protection Orders
Section 144B was introduced as an essential tool to provide immediate relief and protection to victims of domestic violence. It empowers the court to issue various types of protection orders to safeguard the victim from further abuse and harassment. These protection orders are aimed at preventing the perpetrator from committing any act of violence or intimidating the victim. The court may issue the following types of orders:
- Protection Order: This prohibits the offender from committing any violence or harassing the victim.
- Residence Order: This ensures that the victim can continue residing in the shared household without any disturbance, even if she has no legal title or ownership rights.
- Monetary Relief: This order requires the offender to provide financial support to the victim for her basic needs and maintenance.
- Custody Order: In cases involving children, the court may grant custody of the children to the victim or any other appropriate person to ensure their safety and well-being.
- Compensation Order: This allows the court to award compensation to the victim for any injuries or losses suffered due to the domestic violence.
The case of Sandhya Manoj Wankhade vs. Manoj Bhimrao Wankhade exemplifies the effectiveness of Section 144B in providing immediate relief and protection to victims of domestic violence. In this case, the Bombay High Court granted a residence order under Section 144B, allowing the victim to continue residing in the shared household without interference from the perpetrator.
The court observed that Section 144B aimed to protect the victim’s right to a safe residence and was not limited to the victim’s legal rights over the property. This ruling ensured that even if the victim did not have any ownership rights, she could still seek protection and remain in her home free from harassment and violence. This interpretation reinforced the intent behind Section 144B and its role in safeguarding victims’ housing rights.
Impact of Sections 144A and 144B
The introduction of Sections 144A and 144B has had a significant impact on combating domestic violence in India. These provisions have strengthened the legal framework by recognizing the complex nature of abuse within domestic relationships. They acknowledge the rights of victims to live a life free from violence and fear, providing them with a robust mechanism to seek protection and justice.
By granting protection orders, Section 144B empowers victims to take immediate action against their abusers without having to undergo lengthy legal procedures. The provision also acts as a deterrent, sending a strong message that domestic violence will not be tolerated, and offenders will be held accountable for their actions.
Challenges and Future Perspectives
Despite the positive strides made by Sections 144A and 144B, challenges persist in effectively addressing domestic violence in India. Some of these challenges include:
- Awareness and Implementation: Many women, particularly in rural areas, are not aware of their rights or the existence of these provisions. Raising awareness and ensuring effective implementation of these sections remains a critical aspect.
- Reporting and Stigma: Victims often hesitate to report domestic violence due to societal stigma and fear of retaliation from the abuser. Creating safe spaces for reporting and sensitizing law enforcement agencies are crucial steps.
- Capacity Building: Courts and law enforcement agencies need to be equipped with the necessary resources and training to handle domestic violence cases efficiently.
Sections 144A and 144B of the Indian Constitution have been pivotal in recognizing and addressing domestic violence as a grave social issue. They provide a robust legal framework to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable. However, to achieve a society free from domestic violence, it is essential to continuously work on raising awareness, improving implementation, and fostering a culture that condemns violence in all its forms. Only through collective efforts can we create a safer and more secure environment for all individuals, free from the horrors of domestic violence.