Rising trend of the misuse of the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) by women against estranged husbands and his family has drawn sharp reaction from the Bombay High Court. Justice RM Joshi, sitting at the Aurangabad bench of the HC, recently quashed proceedings initiated by a woman against the family of her estranged husband, who did not reside in the same household.
"Unfortunately, a trend seems to have been adopted and proceedings under Domestic Violence Act are filed at even distant place i.e. place where aggrieved person resides and not only husband and joint family members residing under one roof are made respondents but even distant relatives those who have no domestic relationship are also roped in order to cause harassment and to build pressure on husband," observed Justice Joshi.
The HC was hearing a petition filed by the husband's brother, brother's wife and married sister.
Under the DV Act, action can be initiated against the persons having domestic relations. In order to constitute a relationship between two persons as domestic relationship, they must live or at any point of time lived together in a shared household when they are related by consanguinity, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.
The family members contended that they did not share a domestic relationship with the woman. They submitted documents like aadhar card to show they did not live in the same house as a joint family.
The judge noted that in the present case, the relationship of the three petitioners, against whom the DV complaint was filed and the complainant woman was that of a family member, but they did not live in a joint family.
"Thus, in order to constitute domestic relationship, the family members of the aggrieved person must be living together with aggrieved person as joint family," the judge said, adding: "It is, therefore, essential that the applicant pleads that there is domestic relationship between her and respondents and that the other family members have lived or are living together as a joint family, to maintain any such complaint/application under the provisions of the DV Act." Hence, the court quashed the DV complaint against the family members.