Domestic Violence Act not just limited to harassed daughter-in-laws, says court
NEW DELHI: The phenomenon of daughters-in-law harassing their mothers-in-law isn’t uncommon in Indian society, the Delhi high court has observed, saying the former is equally liable to be prosecuted under the Domestic Violence Act.
“A mother who is being maltreated and harassed by her son would be an ‘aggrieved person’. If the said harassment is caused through the female relative of the son, i.e. wife, she will fall within the ambit of the Act,” Justice Mukta Gupta said on Friday, adding that a mother-in-law can take recourse to the Act. HC rejected the claim of the petitioner that she can’t be booked under the DV Act by her mother-in-law.
Seeking quashing of the complaint lodged by her mother-in-law (who also invoked the DV Act against her son), the woman had argued that the DV Act was meant to extend protection against domestic violence to married women who faced ill-treatment or abuse at the hands of the husband or in-laws. She argued in this context the DV Act can’t be invoked against her as she is excluded from the same.
Justice Gupta, however, dismissed the claim for immunity. The court pointed out that the DV Act shows that “any woman who is in a domestic relationship – the said relationship being between two persons who lived at any point of time together in a shared household related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or family members living as a joint family – and alleges she has been subjected to domestic violence is entitled to relief under the Act.”
The court elaborated on the DV Act to emphasize that even those women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women or living with the abuser are entitled to legal protection under the Act and it can’t just be limited to providing relief to harassed daughters-in-law.
Coming to HC for relief, one Kamla (name changed) had challenged her summoning by a magistrate on the complaint of her mother-in-law. She informed HC that her mother-in-law had a property dispute with her husband since 2005 and was using the DV Act as a pressure tactic to force her husband to forego his share in the property.