Bombay High Court Quashes Domestic Violence Case Against Sister-In-Law

Bombay High Court Quashes Domestic Violence Case Against Sister-In-Law

The court was hearing a plea by the 27-year-old married sister-in-law seeking quashing of the case filed against her by her brother’s wife in 2022 under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act)

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Saturday, February 17, 2024, 10:42 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Mumbai: Mere visits to the shared household do not indicate an element of permanency sufficient enough to constitute domestic relationship, observed the Bombay High Court while quashing a domestic violence case against a married sister-in-law (SIL).

“There was no subsisting domestic relationship between the Petitioner (sister-in-law) and the Respondent No 1 (woman) and the Petitioner could not have been arrayed as Respondent in the DV application,” Justice Sharmila Deshmukh observed on February 14.

The court was hearing a plea by the 27-year-old married sister-in-law seeking quashing of the case filed against her by her brother’s wife in 2022 under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act).

Details of the case:

The 32-year-old advocate filed a case against her husband, her mother-in-law, her unmarried brother-in-law and the petitioner. Based on her complaint, the magistrate issued notices to her husband, mother-in-law and brother-in-law on October 18, 2022. The magistrate noted that the SIL and the woman did not have a “domestic relationship” as defined under the DV Act and hence dismissed the complaint against her.

However, following an appeal by the woman, the sessions court quashed the magistrate’s order and restored the complaint against the SIL on September 16, 2023. This was challenged before the HC.

Her advocate Satyavrat Joshi argued that the SIL married on June 20, 2021, prior to the woman’s marriage November 20, 2021. Considering that the SIL resided in her matrimonial house, there was no domestic relationship between them. Also, the allegations in the complaint are general without any specific act attributed to the petitioner.

Further, it is alleged that the SIL used to spend her whole day at the shared household as her matrimonial house was nearby and her mother-in-law had expired. This allegation could not constitute a subsisting domestic relationship, argued Joshi.

The woman’s advocate Subodh Desai, submitted that there were specific allegations against the petitioner. Contending that the allegations are not mala fide, Desai said that the complaint has not been filed against another married sister-in-law. Spending her whole day in the shared household is sufficient to constitute a domestic relationship between, Desai added.

Court's observations:

Justice Deshmukh noted that the allegations regarding the petitioners visits “do not indicate an element of permanency sufficient enough to constitute domestic relationship even if it is accepted that the Petitioner was spending her entire day in the shared household”. The court also took note that there were no specific allegations were attributed to the petitioner.

“Petitioner every day used to come to their house by 2pm and then she used to leave at around 8pm and she used to pack food for her husband and her family members from their home. Considering the pleadings in the application it cannot be said that the Petitioner has subjected the Respondent No 1 to any act of domestic violence as contemplated under Section 3 of the DV Act,” Justice Deshmukh underlined.

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