A woman cannot file a complaint under the Domestic Violence Act at a place where she is merely “visiting” and the same is not her “permanent / temporary place of residence”, ruled the Bombay High Court. The HC upheld the order of city magistrate which refused to entertain the complaint of a Hyderabad-based woman citing lack of jurisdiction.
Justice SK Shinde observed that if a woman was allowed to file complaints at any places she merely visits, then “it may lead to abuse of legal process of law, as aggrieved person may choose, any place, where she may be a casual visitor”.
The HC was hearing an appeal filed by the woman against the order of the Metropolitan Magistrate at Bandra which dismissed her complaint under the DV Act.
Section 27 of the DV Act permits filing a complaint where the woman “permanently” or “temporarily resides”. Setting out the difference between temporary residence and causal visit place, the HC has said: “A place, where aggrieved person has gone on a casual visit, a lodge or hostel or a guest house or an inn where she stays for a short period or a residence at a place simply for the purpose of filing a case against another person cannot be a place which would satisfy the term ‘temporarily resides’ as appears in Section 27".
According to the woman, she married in December 1993 in Hyderabad. She alleged that she was subjected to physical and mental torture by her husband and son for which she had filed a complaint with the local police on September 4 this year. Finally, she left her house on September 26-27 and came to Mumbai, where she was to meet her brother, who resides in the US. She was staying in a hotel in Bandra.
She filed two complaints with the police in October saying that she was being followed and was under surveillance on her husband and son’s instructions.
On October 28, she filed a complaint with the magistrate, which is within 23 days of her arrival in Mumbai.
Her counsel Rizwan Merchant argued that the complainant’s husband and son were very influential persons in Hyderabad and she suspects that no action would be taken against them by the local police.
The HC noted that the woman had not taken any steps to protect her life, property or restrain her husband from inflicting domestic violence against her since her marriage in 1993.
“In the backdrop of these facts, it is to be ascertained, whether application filed (under the DV Act) by the Petitioner (woman) discloses or implies her intention to reside at a place in Mumbai or was it just casual or flying visit to acquire jurisdiction,” asked HC.
The HC also noted: “Averments in application suggest, that Applicant is well educated person; she is financially sound; her parents are in business. In consideration of her background it is difficult to accept her contention or that she could not seek protection order at Hyderabad.”
Plus there is no suggestion to imply that she was forced to leave Hyderabad and that she intends to reside in Mumbai.
“On the contrary the chronology of the events do suggest, that the Applicant engineered the cause of action with an intention to file case and confer jurisdiction upon the Magistrate (in Mumbai),” added HC while dismissing her appeal.
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