Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has observed that when no domestic violence is found in a domestic violence case, then maintenance cannot be awarded to the wife on the ground that the husband refused and neglected to maintain her.
Justice SG Mehare of the Aurangabad bench of the HC observed that there were no provisions in the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DV Act) to test the “refusal and neglect to maintain wife”. The same was covered under sections 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
What did the court say on the case?
“The tests to prove the domestic violence and refusal and neglect to maintain are different. There were no provisions in the Domestic Violence Act to test the refusal and neglect to maintain. The concept of domestic violence is specific as provided in DV Act. It could not be compared with the concept of Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code,” observed the HC.
“She never pleaded that the applicant/husband refused and neglected her. It was not also the issue before the trial Court. Considering the concept of refusal and neglect and granting the maintenance to the wife in DV Act case is out of jurisdiction and exaggeration,” added the HC.
The HC was hearing an application filed by the husband challenging the order of the sessions judge awarding maintenance to the wife in a domestic violence complaint despite finding that no domestic violence was committed.
According to the plea, the wife filed an application alleging domestic violence under section 12 of the DV Act. The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) considered the evidence and concluded that her contentions in her application were different from the arguments in the court. The JMFC, hence, did not award her any maintenance.
On an appeal by the wife, the sessions judge agreed with JMFC’s findings that there was no domestic violence, hence the wife was not entitled to monetary relief, house rent, refund of dowry and compensation. However, the judge, considering the case as an application under section 125 of the CrPC, held that the husband refused and neglected to maintain his wife and awarded maintenance. The husband challenged this before the HC.
The HC noted that the DV Act is a law “in addition to” and not “in derogation” of any other law. Therefore, the wife may simultaneously claim the reliefs under Domestic Violence Act as well as under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code.
Therefore, Justice Mehare held that the Additional Sessions Judge went beyond the pleadings and the laws involved in the case. Granting maintenance to the wife in a domestic violence case based on the concept of refusal and neglect to maintain is beyond the jurisdiction of the Additional Sessions Judge, the judge added, quashing the sessions judge’s order.
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