Domestic Violence: HC sets procedures

Another case was brought to justice amidst this noise and furore around the supposed misuse of laws safeguarding women, with a High Court setting guidelines to handle domestic violence matters.

The Bombay High Court (at Goa) has held that a magistrate should hear the parties and ‘frame issues’ to decide the reliefs sought under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

“Although in cases of this nature where there are no pleadings as such and the applications are filed in the prescribed form by ticking the reliefs sought, it would be desirable that the court after hearing both the parties frames issues on the basis of the reliefs sought by the petitioner,” the High Court observed. The court further stated that ‘if this procedure is followed, then there is no question of any of the reliefs going unnoticed and undecided, like the case at hand’.

In this case, a woman had in 2007 filed an application before a judicial magistrate first class court against her husband alleging physical violence. She had sought maintenance and compensation for domestic violence, besides several other reliefs.

The judicial magistrate had dismissed her application in 2009 and the additional sessions judge (ASJ) had upheld the order of the magistrate in 2010. Subsequently, the woman had challenged orders of the the lower courts before the High Court.

The high court held that the order of the magistrate is ‘totally silent’ as regards domestic violence, and that the ASJ has misunderstood the concept of domestic violence.

While stating that the magistrate has not stated in the order as to why the petitioner was not entitled to any of the reliefs, the high court observed that both the courts have ‘not at all’ dealt with the aspect of maintenance claimed by petitioner. While setting aside the orders of the subordinate courts, the high court remanded the matter back to the magistrate to decide it afresh in the light of its observations.

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