When we say women in India are enjoying extremely biased laws in the name of Women’s Equality, we are surely not exaggerating. The same has been affirmed time and again by top court and other courts in the country. Recently, Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 has remained in “oblivion and indifferent” to violence faced by Men.
In their verdict, the High Court has pointed out multiple laws “which are lopsided (and) heavily weighing in favour of women”. The court has categorically stated that this is being evolved due to political compulsions and less out of a social need. The court could not have been more direct in expressing the reality what Men’s Rights Activists have been pressing since so many years.
Justice Fateh Deep Singh, in the verdict on the issue concerning the existing law regarding domestic violence said:
The magistrates need to be sensitised for adoption of practice of counselling, requisitioning marriage counsellors and welfare experts and ensure that entire proceedings are held in camera in accordance with the law.
The order has been directed to be circulated among all the subordinate courts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to bring about “uniformity in approach and outlook” towards the Domestic Violence Act.
The courts embark upon a journey of dealing with the respondent as a ‘criminal’, which is in fact not in the true spirit of the Act and even goes to the extent of issuing arrest warrants, thus compelling a party to seek shelter of this court…which needs to be discouraged.
- The judgment came on November 5, where fourteen petitions challenging the proceedings were initiated against the petitioners under the Act
- The order was then made public in the last week of November
- The court has directed the order copies to be sent to the home departments of Punjab, Haryana and Union Territory of Chandigarh “to prod them into taking necessary and immediate steps in facilitating fulfilment of state’s obligation in achieving the objects for which the Act has been envisaged”
- The 2005 Act falls short of constitutional obligation as enshrined under Articles 14 and 15 and that it has tried to concretely deal with the problems of domestic violence “from feminist perspective of law”
- Justice Singh said that in spite of the concept of equality in the constitution, there is a still huge gap in gender equality as women are often “misnomered as ‘weaker sex’”
- The court further said that the Act was one of the “most aggressive” even if it was “progressive” and enacted in favour of women’s rights
- There is general failure in the application of human rights throughout the world and there is no uniform application on account of varying cultures and traditions of a society, which is still patriarchal, medieval in its outlook towards the women and hence, in spite of international resolve, relentless efforts have failed to achieve the ultimate, so our country is no exception
- The court also said the proceedings of the Act are predominately civil in nature and apparently the application of criminal proceeding to it was created to give it more teeth and deter the perpetrators of violence
- The Act does not lay down at what stage a magistrate can pass interim orders by way of protection orders, residency orders, monetary reliefs, custody orders and compensation orders
- The courts need to be slow in doing so at the preliminary stage before taking cognizance of the application, else the provisions of reconciliation/counselling might become a casualty
- Justice Singh also noted, that it is often seen that the respondents get “alarmed” at mere issuance of notice when its only a ministerial function and cannot be equated with summons
The above order and observations probably stem out from the daily false and fabricated stories that the judges have been witnessing from women and their family’s side. If every court starts balancing the Gender bias and looking at mere facts placed on record, there will be higher chances for #MenToo hoping for time bound justice.