Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 contains five chapters and thirty seven sections. This article highlights some of the important provisions which are essential for the nuance understanding of the statute. The basic provisions are simplified here so that a layman faces no difficulties when it comes to grasping the concept of the act.
Definitions in the Domestic Violence Act, 2005
(a) Domestic Violence
The term ‘domestic violence’ has been used in widest sense which covers all forms of physical , sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse that can harm, cause injury to, endanger the health safety, life , limb or well-being either mental or physical of the aggrieved person.
(b) ‘Aggrieved person’
The span of the term ‘aggrieved person’ covers not just a wife but a woman who is the sexual partner of the male irrespective of whether she is legal wife or not (includes live-in relationships as well)
The daughter, mother, sister, child (male or female), widowed relative, in fact, any woman residing in the household who is related in some way with the respondent is covered by the act.
The term ‘respondent’ implies “any male, adult person who is, or has been, in a doestic relationship with the aggrieved person”.
This ensures that the respondent’s mother, sister and other relatives do not go scott free, the case can also be filed against relatives of the husband or the male partner.
Basic Features of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005
1. Apart from the victim herself, the complaint regarding an act or act of domestic violence can also be lodged by ‘any person who has a reason to believe that’ such an act was committed or is being committed. This means that neighbors, social workers, relatives can also take initiative. And the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act make sure that ‘no criminal, civil or any other liability’ lies on the informer, if the complaint is lodged in good faith.
2. The magistrate has been given powers to permit the aggrieved women to stay in her place of adobe and she can not be evicted by her male relatives in the retaliation.
This is not all; the aggrieved woman can even be allotted a part of the house for personal use.
3. The respondent can be prohibited from dispossessing the aggrieved person or in any other manner disturbing her possessions, entering the aggrieved person’s place of work, if the aggrieved person is a child, the school. Also magistrate can bar the respondent to communicate with aggrieved person by “personal, oral, written, electronic or telephonic contact.”
4. The magistrate can impose monthly payments of maintenance. The respondent can also be ordered to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person and any child of aggrieved person as a result of domestic violence. It can also cover loss of earnings, medical expenses, loss or damage to property.
Under Sec 22 magistrate can make the respondent pay compensation and damages for injuries including mental torture and emotional distress caused by act(s) of domestic violence.
5. Penalty up to one-year and/or a fine up to Rs. 20,000/- can be imposed under under the act. The offence is also considered cognizable and non-bailable while Sec 32 (2) goes even says that ‘under the sole testimony of the aggrieved person, the court may conclude that an offence has been committed by the accused”.
6. The act ensures speedy justice as the court has to start proceedings and have the first hearing within 3 days of the complaint being filed in the court and every case must be disposed off within a period of sixty days of the first hearing.
7. The act makes provisions for state to provide for protection officers and status of ‘service providers’ and ‘medical facility’.
8. Chapter 4 Sec 16 allows the magistrate to hold proceedings in camera “if either party to the proceedings so desires”.