Understanding The Law on Domestic Violence in India: A Comprehensive StudyIntroduction
The issue of domestic violence has been at the forefront of human rights discourse in India, especially concerning women's rights. The specific legal provision for addressing domestic violence in India is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA). This act marks a significant evolution from the traditionally limited understanding of violence as physical abuse, to encompass mental, emotional, and economic violence as well.
Key Provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
The PWDVA came into force on October 26th, 2006, with the objective to provide more effective protection to women who are victims of violence within the family.
Expanded Definition of Domestic Violence: The Act provides an inclusive definition of 'domestic violence'. It covers physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, and economic abuse.
Protection Orders: The Act empowers the court to pass protection orders in favour of the aggrieved person, prohibiting the respondent from committing any act of domestic violence.
Residence Orders: The court can pass residence orders, barring the respondent from dispossessing or in any other manner disturbing the possession of the aggrieved person from the shared household.
Monetary Relief: The aggrieved woman can be awarded monetary relief by the court to meet her expenses incurred and losses suffered.
Custody Orders: The Act enables the court to grant temporary custody of any child or children to the aggrieved person or the person making an application on her behalf.
Appointment of Protection Officers: The Act provides for the appointment of Protection Officers to assist the court in the discharge of its functions.
Key Case Laws Interpreting PWDVA
Indra Sarma vs V.K.V Sarma: The Supreme Court in this case provided a detailed interpretation of the term ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ under the PWDVA. It held that not all live-in relationships will amount to a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ for the purpose of the Act.
S.R. Batra vs Taruna Batra: The Supreme Court clarified that the right to shared household would only mean the house belonging to or taken on rent by the husband, or the house which belongs to the joint family of which the husband is a member.
Challenges and Concerns
Despite the PWDVA being a significant piece of legislation, there are still areas where its implementation faces hurdles. These include social stigma, lack of awareness, challenges in accessing legal aid, and delays in court proceedings.
The PWDVA is a comprehensive legislation that provides both civil and criminal remedies against the perpetrators of domestic violence. It reflects the commitment of the Indian legal system to uphold women's rights and eliminate domestic violence. However, the law can only be fully effective when it is implemented efficiently and in conjunction with societal change.