Calcutta HC: Domestic Abuse Application Submitted by Minor Cannot be Rejected on Basis of Maintainability Once she Attains Majority

Sakina Tashrifwala

Published on: November 6, 2022 at 18:11 IST

In a landmark ruling, the Calcutta High Court clarified that a domestic abuse application submitted by a minor under Section 12 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, cannot be rejected on the basis of maintainability once she attains majority.

Although it determined that the application submitted by a minor who was not assisted by her natural guardians or next-of-kin was irregular, it went on to say that such an application becomes valid the day the applicant reaches the age of majority.

When dealing with a criminal revision petition that was submitted as a result of the Domestic Violence proceedings started by respondent no. 2 herein (daughter) against the petitioner (father) herein, Justice Shampa Dutt (Paul) made the observation.

Because the respondent was a minor at the time of submitting the application and was not being represented by her legal guardians or next-of-kin, the Court of Judicial Magistrate had dismissed the claim as unmaintainable.

The Additional Sessions Judge overturned the Magistrate’s order from July 18, 2018, after Respondent No. 2 filed an appeal under Section 29 of the Domestic Violence Act, and the case was sent back for further consideration.

This Additional Sessions Judge’s order was the target of the present criminal revision application. It was stated that the ASJ did not understand the legal principle that a minor cannot represent himself or herself in court without the assistance of a natural guardian or close friend.

On the other hand, the respondent no. 2 argued that the Domestic Violence Act is a helpful and assertive piece of law and that she was of legal age at the time the trial court’s order of July 18, 2018, was passed.

Justice Dutt stated at the opening that courts have a responsibility to safeguard the constitutional rights of women and make sure they do not become victims of domestic abuse.

The bench cited the Supreme Court’s decision in Krishna Bhattacharjee vs. Sarathi Choudhury and Anr., reported in (2016) 1 SCC (Cri) 810, which requires the Court to treat women’s rights with consideration before dismissing complaints on procedural grounds.

The Court came to the conclusion that while the petition under Section12 of the Domestic Violence Act was irregular due to the respondent’s status as a minor, the respondent had attained majority as of the date of the order of the July 18, 2018 passed by the Judicial Magistrate, and as a result, the said order was not in accordance with law.

The Court based its decision on the Allahabad High Court’s decision in Raj Behari Lal and Ors. vs. Dr. Mahabir.

The Court determined that the revision application was denied within the context of the current matter, holding:

“The petitioner/opposite party no. 2 was a major when the Misc. Case 103/2014 was dismissed on the date of the final order, which caused the daughter/petitioner/opposite party no. 2 herein irreparable loss and harm. In the case before us, the learned Magistrate clearly failed in his duty and approach in accordance with the guidelines of the Supreme Court.”

“Additionally, the learned Magistrate neglected to remember that it is the responsibility of the courts to defend the constitutional rights of women and to make sure they are never the victims of domestic violence. When the petition was initially filed, it was merely an irregularity; however, when the petitioner was promoted to major, the petition was made official. And that took place prior to the Magistrate passing the final order.”

“Here, the father is the one being accused of domestic abuse. In light of this, the learned 1st Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge, Serampore, correctly granted the appeal and ordered the learned Magistrate to hear the case once more. The learned Sessions Judge further took into account the fact that the case fell under a favourable law and that the appellant was unmistakably/admittedly a major on the date of the ruling.”

The criminal revision application was thus denied since it was determined that the revision ruling was legal.

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