Published on: 2 August 2023 at 14:40 IST
The Bombay High Court has recently expressed its concern about the growing trend of estranged wives misusing the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) to harass their husbands and extended family members, including distant relatives.
In a recent case, Justice RM Joshi, a single-judge bench, quashed proceedings under the DV Act against the in-laws of a woman who lived far away from her but were falsely named in the complaint lodged against her husband, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and other distant relatives [Dhananjay Mohan Zombade vs Prachi Dhananjay Zombade].
In the order passed on July 18, the bench observed that an unfortunate trend has emerged where proceedings under the DV Act are being filed even at distant locations where the aggrieved person resides.
Not only are husbands and joint family members residing together being made respondents, but even distant relatives with no domestic relationship are being roped into the proceedings to cause harassment and exert pressure on the husband.
The court was hearing a plea filed by the brother-in-law, his wife, and the sister-in-law of the complainant woman, who did not live in the same house as her.
These three individuals did not share a ‘domestic relationship’ under the Act with the complainant since two of them lived in Khadki, Pune, and the third (married sister-in-law) lived in Osmanabad.
The court emphasized that a domestic relationship between the aggrieved person (complainant) and the respondents is an essential element to maintain any proceeding under the DV Act.
For a relationship to be considered a domestic relationship, the parties must have lived together or at any point in time lived together in a shared household while being related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship similar to marriage or adoption.
They must also be family members living together as a joint family.
In this particular case, the court noted that the three accused and the complainant did not have a domestic relationship, as they did not live together as a joint family.
The evidence presented by the three accused showed that they lived at distant locations and were not residing under the same roof as the complainant.
Considering these facts, the court quashed the proceedings against the three accused. Advocate GJ Kore appeared for the applicants, while Advocate Rajesh Mewara represented the complainant in the case.
The judgment serves as a reminder of the importance of preventing the misuse of laws meant to protect women, ensuring that genuine cases of domestic violence are addressed while safeguarding the rights of accused individuals and their extended family members.