AHMEDABAD: Last year, a court asked a family in Dholka to vacate the house for the daughter-in-law, and asked all the men in the house to leave.
This, after the daughter-in-law filed a complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (DV Act) and demanded shelter in the house.
The court did not touch women under provisions of Section 2 (q) of the Act, which says that the law does not envisage women as respondents in proceedings. However, a year later, the Gujarat High Court is debating if action can be contemplated against women under the DV Act?
Many women who have been booked under this law, have approached the high court claiming that the law does not envisage a woman as respondent, but the magisterial courts across the state have initiated proceedings against them. They requested the high court to exonerate them in these cases.
During the hearing before Justice HN Devani, the petitioners’ counsel PK Jani argued that proceedings under the DV Act can take place against adult males only. However, the issue nags every application under DV Act. He requested the high court for a judicial pronouncement to obviate conflicting decisions by lower courts in the state.
Following this request, Justice Devani admitted the petitions and ordered lower courts concerned to stay proceedings against women respondents till the final outcome of the case.
The lower courts and high courts across the country differ on this issue. The Madhya Pradesh HC has held that complaint can be filed and proceedings can be initiated against adult male persons only under DV Act. In one case, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has taken similar view that women cannot be made respondents, but in another case a division bench of the same high court took a different stand.
The division bench in AP High Court on June 2 this year concluded that the complainant under DV Act has to be a woman and if she is a wife, the female relatives of husband can be named as respondents. Thus, DV Act does not exclude women completely.
Amid such conflicting orders, the high court here has decided to settle the law for further guidance of lower courts. Further hearing is kept on October 30.