Domestic Violence laws, from use to misuse

“No nation founded upon injustice can stand. From the sand
enshrouded Egypt, from the marbled wilderness of Athens, from
every fallen crumbling stone of once mighty Rome comes a wail, as it
were the cry. No nation founded upon injustice can permanently stand”

Violence is “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development, or deprivation.”

Domestic Violence laws, from use to misuse.

According to the World Health Organization, violence can be characterized in the following categories:

 Self-directed violence refers to violence in which the perpetrator and the victim are the same individual and is subdivided into self-abuse and suicide.

 Interpersonal violence refers to violence between individuals, and is subdivided into  violence and community violence. The former category includes child maltreatment; intimate partner violence; and elder abuse, while the latter is broken down into acquaintance  and  stranger  violence and includes youth violence; assault by strangers; violence related to property crimes; and violence in workplaces and other institutions.

 Collective violence refers to violence committed by larger groups of individuals and can be subdivided into social, political and economic violence.

Domestic violence can be described as the power misused by one adult in a
relationship to control another. It is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse. This violence can take the form of physical assault, psychological abuse, social abuse, financial abuse, or . The frequency of the violence can be on and off, occasional or chronic.

“Domestic violence is not simply an argument. It is a pattern of coercive controls that one person exercises over another. Abusers use physical and sexual violence, threats, emotional insults and economic deprivation as a way to dominate their victims and get their way”.

Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a result of Legislative dynamism. It is a well-
intended Social Legislation that was introduced when all the other previous Statutes failed to achieve the desired results and as a last resort to protect the women from domestic terrorism.

Domestic violence and dowry deaths are quite prevalent in India. And it implies that it’s all around us. We all know of people in our families or among our friends who have at some point faced domestic violence, or have perpetrated it. Often, we have looked away and have done nothing because we were unaware of the remedies available to us.

At present, there are three laws in place in India that deal directly with domestic violence:
 The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
 The Dowry Prohibition Act, .
 Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is a civil law that provides protection to women in a household, from men in the household. This law not only protects married women but also protects women who are in live-in relationships, as well as family members including mothers, grandmothers, etc. Under this law, women can seek protection against domestic violence, financial compensation, the right to live in their shared household, and can get maintenance from their abuser in case they are living apart. The main objective of the act is to
protect women from physical, mental, verbal, and economical abuse, within their domestic bounds, as defined in the Section 3 of the act.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

Domestic Violence laws, from use to misuse.

The phenomenon of Domestic violence is widely prevalent but has remained largely invisible in the public domain. Presently, a woman if subjected to cruelty, by her husband or his relatives, is an offence under Sec 498- A of The Indian Penal Code. Section 498-A describes a criminal offence which is cognizable, and non- compoundable. But, in actual sense, Section 498-A is twisted to a great extent.

Looking carefully at the non-bailable facet of the offence, it is disheartening to observe that the bail is ordered at the discretion of the Magistrate and the family is put behind the bars and all sort of manipulations are done. This happens usually when the Magistrate and the police is corrupt. It would be unjustified to call it non-compoundable in the truest sense as the court allows the withdrawal of the complaint if the parties agree for the settlement of the case outside the Court. Unfortunately, all of this defeats the very purpose of this legislation. The legislation fails to provide to the real victims of the dowry harassment.

The Supreme Court of India noted that in July 2017, the law is being increasingly “misused by some disgruntled wives” to frame their husbands and his relatives. The primary reasons behind these fake cases are relentlessness towards the husband or his family, extramarital affairs, or to cover up some criminal activity. The law lends itself easy to be misused by females, mainly in acts of frivolous vengeance.

Quoting the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) , the bench said
that nearly 200,000 people were arrested for dowry offences in 2012, but only 14.4% of the accused were convicted.

“We are conscious of the objective for which the provision was brought into the statute…. At the same time, violation of Human rights of (the) innocent cannot be brushed aside” the bench remarked. To this effect, the Supreme Court of India had ordered the formation of a family welfare committee in every district, to probe the veracity of complaints filed under Section 498A of IPC. The judges ordered the police “not to automatically arrest” an accused, but to go through a “nine-point checklist” to “satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest”.The court also ruled that in cases where arrests are made, a magistrate must approve further detention of the accused.

We, as citizens, have vested their irrevocable faith in the hands of the Indian Judiciary, but there is always a scope for improvement. As a student of law, I believe that Section 498-A of IPC must be made bailable and non-compoundable. A proper investigation must be made before arresting an individual, and their rights must be equally protected.

Indian Judiciary, at present, has some notable flaws. Despite the various judicial pronouncements, the misuse of laws is accorded with normalcy. Women-centric laws are embellished with great power, which in turn aids in finding favourable loopholes. After falsely accusing men, and filing a complaint under any female-centric law, the females get themselves rid of the future legal proceedings, but the male has to bear the indelible blot for life.


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