Bombay High Court voices concern over rise in trend of women misusing Domestic Violence Act

The Bombay High Court recently voiced its concern over the trend of estranged wives misusing the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act to harass their husband and his family members including distant relatives (DV Act) [Dhananjay Mohan Zombade vs Prachi Dhananjay Zombade].

Single-judge Justice RM Joshi quashed proceedings under the Act against a woman’s in-laws who, despite residing far away, were named by the woman in the complaint she lodged against her husband and other relatives.

“Unfortunately, a trend seems to have been adopted and proceedings under Domestic Violence Act are filed at even distant place i.e. place where aggrieved person resides and not only husband and joint family members residing under one roof are made respondents but even distant relatives those who have no domestic relationship are also roped in order to cause harassment and to build pressure on husband,” the bench observed in the order passed on July 18.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by the brother-in-law, his wife and the sister-in-law of the complainant woman, who did not live with her in the same house.

The three petitioners did not share a ‘domestic relationship’ under the Act with the complainant as two of them lived in Khadki, Pune and the third one (married sister-in-law) lived in Osmanabad.

Taking note of the same, the bench said that it is settled law that a domestic relationship between aggrieved person (complainant) and respondents is sine qua non (essential element) to maintain any proceeding under the DV Act.

“In order to constitute relationship between two persons as domestic relationship, they must live or 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,” the bench said.

In the instant case, the judge noted that the relationship of the three accused and also the complainant was as a family member.

“Thus, in order to constitute domestic relationship, the family members of the aggrieved person must be living together with aggrieved person as joint family. It is, therefore, essential that the applicant pleads that there is domestic relationship between her and respondents and that the other family members have lived or are living together as a joint family, to maintain any such complaint/application under the provisions of the DV Act,” the bench underscored.

It considered the evidence adduced by the three accused to show that they lived at distant places and did not live under the same roof with the complainant.

The Court, therefore, quashed the proceedings against the three accused.

Advocate GJ Kore appeared for the applicants.

Advocate Rajesh Mewara represented the complainant.

Source: Bar & Bench

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