The newly added Section 498A to the Indian Penal Code was a saviour of married women who were exposed to cruelty and dowry demands from the husband and his relatives. However there were thousands of women who did not fall within the ambit of Section 498A yet who were suffering immensely and had no recourse to law and immediate relief.
The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act 2005 has come to the aide of women who are exposed to domestic violence within the four corners of a household.
The definition of domestic violence includes physical, mental, emotional or economic abuse.
Actual physical harm or abusing the woman, calling her names, insulting her, humiliating her because she is dark skinned or has not borne a son, or forcing her to do things against her wishes, not allowing her access to her children, depriving her of her earnings, disposing off her streedhan, not giving her sufficient food, constantly threatening to throw her out if she did not get dowry, stopping her from going out of the house and a host of things are defined as domestic violence.
This Act is applicable to women in a domestic relationship in a shared household means a relationship between two persons who live or have lived together in a shared household at any point of time when they are related by blood, marriage, or in a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption, or family members living as a joint family.
Here even a live in partner can seek relief. A mother can seek relief against her son; a daughter can seek relief against her father who is forcing her to marry against her wishes etc.
The woman gets immediate protection since there are protective agencies (Like Baap nu Ghar) called the Service Providers where the woman can go. These Service Providers are registered voluntary associations who are empowered by this law to record the incidence of Domestic violence and forward a copy thereof to the Magistrate.
The service providers can get the woman medically examined and forward the report to the Protection Officer. The Service Provider can also ensure that the aggrieved person is provided shelter in the shelter home and then forward the report to the Police Station.
This Act is both Civil and criminal. When an aggrieved party files a complaint in the Magistrates Court the parties are sent for Counseling by the Court to the Counselors of the Service Providers. In 498A there is straightaway penal action. Here there is a chance for the relationship to be saved.
If the parties settle their differences they can go back together or else the Court can pass Protection Order, Residence orders, Monetary reliefs, Custody reliefs and Compensation orders.
Flouting the Magistrate’s abovementioned orders can lead to penal consequences of imprisonment and or fine up to Rs.20,000/-.
This article has been written by Ketaki Jayakar, Advocate.
Tags: Be Legally Aware