Court forcing men out of homes for domestic violence

New Delhi, July 12 Gaurav Sharma has just lost his house to his estranged wife, and he is not the only man ordered by the court to surrender his home as courts seek to crack down on domestic violence.

Life took an ugly turn for Sharma when a Delhi court asked him to vacate his newly bought house in Gurgaon near Delhi and hand over possession to a wife who had left him three years after marriage.

The dramatic development took place after his wife slapped a case of domestic violence. Sharma pleaded with the court to be lenient but was forced to move to a rented accommodation.

The Domestic Violence Act of 2006 seeks to provide protection and compensation for all kinds of abuse at home directed at women — including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic.

Sharma, who works with an IT consultancy company, explained what he underwent: “I was happily married to Sunita. But since she could not adjust with my parents, I bought a house on loan. However things did not work between us. She left the home on her own after five months to live with her parents in Delhi. I explored every option to bring her back but failed.”

His wife slapped a case of domestic violence and dowry harassment against him and his family.

“Within a month, a court directed me to vacate the house and give its possession to my wife,” Sharma said. At the same time he had to keep paying the loan instalments of Rs.40,000 a month.

On top of it, he pays the rent for the Dwarka house where he lives.

Sections 18-23 of the Domestic Violence Act provide a large number of avenues for an abused woman to get relief. She can get protection orders, residence orders, monetary relief and custody order for children.

I pleaded with the court that I will get her a rented accommodation but the court asked me to give the keys of my house to her and directed me not to visit that house,” Sharma said.

According to him, Sunita works with a multinational, earning Rs.6 lakhs a year.

Sharma’s is not the only case where a husband has had to vacate the house.

Sandeep Bhartia, founder of the Gender Human Rights Society, which fights for the rights of men accused of domestic violence, said that married men were daily losing their homes under the Domestic Violence Act.

He said the act was so stringent that judges at times overlooked points that may show the husbands in good light.

“In some cases the husband and wife were staying separately for more than two years, in some maintenance had already been decided. But all that is immaterial when the act comes into play. Judges have to give some relief, at least a right of residence to her,” Bhartia said.

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