Domestic Violence Act will apply retrospectively: HC

This will benefit those who have filed cases before the Act came into force in 2005
In a major fillip to victims of domestic violence, the Bombay High Court on Saturday held that provisions of the Domestic Violence (DV) Act, 2005, will apply retrospectively. In other words, women, who faced domestic violence even before the DV Act came into force in October 2006, can seek benefit of the welfare provisions provided in the new Act.

Justice Abhay Oka rejected the petition filed by a 60-year-old Pune-based former government servant, who had challenged an order passed by a magistrate in September 2008 allowing certain reliefs to his 58-year-old wife under the new DV Act.

The husband claimed that since 2001 his wife had been residing separately and she had filed for divorce on grounds of cruelty and adultery. He argued that since the couple was living apart since 2001, therefore there was no question of the husband committing any act of domestic violence after October 17, 2006, the date of which the DV Act came into effect.

In February 2008, the wife filed an application under DV Act seeking relief with regard to residence. Husband opposed application stating that DV Act would not apply retrospectively. Magistrate rejected the husband’s objection and allowed the wife’s application holding that provisions of the DV Act apply retrospectively. Justice Oka rejected the husband’s argument.

The DV Act, 2005, has been welcomed by women’s rights activists as it provides protection against abuse to women including wives, live-in partners, sisters and mothers. Most significantly it recognises a woman’s right to securing a residence. It not only recognises rights to a matrimonial home but also a shared household, whether or not she has any title or rights in the household.

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