A very crucial message and judgement comes from the top court with regards to issuing random notices against Domestic Violence cases on mere word of woman. The Supreme Court has observed that, before issuing notice in a complaint alleging Domestic Violence, the court has to be prima facie satisfied that there have been instances of domestic violence.
- In the current matter, a wife had made allegations of domestic violence against fourteen persons, including her husband and his parents
- All other respondents are relatives of parents-in-law of the complainant, who are residing in other states
- Marriage took place in 2006 in the state of Rajasthan
- Later couple moved to Chennai and was residing there along with the parents of the husband
- In 2014, wife went to Bangalore to attend her sister’s wedding and the family assumed she would stay there for a short time due to the celebrations and other activities
- However, the wife refused to return to her matrimonial home since then
- It is then that the husband filed an application under Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights in the Family Court at Chennai
- Thereafter the wife filed a case of domestic violence against her husband, in-laws and other relatives (including father-in-law’s brother and their wives) and also claimed monetary relief in the court at Bangalore
- Despite other relatives living in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the family court magistrate issued notices to all of them in April 2015
- The appellant husband and family then approached Karnataka High Court to quash the proceedings, stating neither the marriage took place in Bangalore nor the parties ever stayed there
- The counsel for the wife argued that Domestic Violence cases are maintainable wherever the wife permanently or temporarily resides
- However, the High Court dismissed the plea stating that the complaint narrated various instances of Domestic Violence at different locations at different times and thus did not stay the order
- It is then that the husband and family appealed in Supreme Court against the matter
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Supreme Court Order
The bench of Justices R. Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy noted that, insofar as husband and Parents-in-law, there are averments of alleging domestic violence alleging that they have taken away the jewellery of the respondent gifted to her by her father during marriage and the alleged acts of harassment to the respondent. As regards other, the bench said:
There are no specific allegations as to how other relatives of appellant No.14 have caused the acts of domestic violence. It is also not known as to how other relatives who are residents of Gujarat and Rajasthan can be held responsible for award of monetary relief to the respondent. The High Court was not right in saying that there was prima facie case against the other appellants No.3 to 13. Since there are no specific allegations against appellants No.3 to 13, the criminal case of domestic violence against them cannot be continued and is liable to be quashed.
The bench, referring to provisions of the Domestic Violence Act, observed:
Section 18 of the Domestic Violence Act relates to protection order. In terms of Section 18 of the Act, intention of the legislature is to provide more protection to woman. Section 20 of the Act empowers the court to order for monetary relief to the “aggrieved party”. When acts of domestic violence is alleged, before issuing notice, the court has to be prima facie satisfied that there have been instances of domestic violence.
With regard to objection taken with respect to jurisdiction, the bench observed:
A plain reading of the above provision makes it clear that the petition under the Domestic Violence Act can be filed in a court where the “person aggrieved” permanently or temporarily resides or carries on business or is employed. In the present case, the respondent is residing with her parents within the territorial limits of Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Bengaluru. In view of Section 27(1) (a) of the Act, the Metropolitan Magistrate court, Bengaluru has the jurisdiction to entertain the complaint and take cognizance of the offence. There is no merit in the contention raising objection as to the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Magistrate Court at Bengaluru.
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- From the above, one can understand how easy it is for a woman to settle score if she chooses to part ways from her husband or not cohabit with him anymore
- There was no case of domestic violence for nine long years that the parties stayed together
- However, the rebound of criminal complaints only came when the husband filed for restoration of his conjugal rights
- The order was issued by family court in 2015 and the supreme court has now given a stay in 2020 (after five long years)
- This means the entire family residing in different states, some relatives who may not even have interacted much with the wife, would be running pillar to post to get their names cleared from the DV complaint
- When it comes to family court, what was the evidence on record that prompted them to issue notices to all fourteen members?……just mere allegations by the wife
- That’s how the system functions, and if you are lucky you get a partial stay order like in the above case
- Else there have been several families who have ended lives or died in the process of seeking justice