New High Court ruling will help domestic violence victims in India

In an order that will provide relief to hundreds of domestic violence victims, the Bombay high court ruled that a court hearing such a case need not wait for a report filed by the protection officer before awarding interim compensation.

Justice R Y Ganoo said courts that dealt with domestic violence cases could take a decision on the basis of records submitted to it. “If the trial court, which is required to pass an order, keeps on waiting for the report of the protection officer, it would entail delay and the idea of considering the case of a needy person at the interim stage will be defeated,” said Justice Ganoo, while dismissing an application filed by a Amravati resident who claimed that the report was mandatory.

The court upheld an order of the trial court asking him to pay Rs 1,800 to his wife and child every month as interim maintenance.

Under the Domestic Violence Act enacted in 2005, a woman or a protection officer or a third party can lodge a complaint alleging abuse before the magistrate. The magistrate, after hearing the parties, can pass an interim order, asking the man to pay compensation or monthly maintenance for the demages caused to the woman.

The Act has a clause, which says before passing such an order, the magistrate shall take into consideration “any domestic incident report received from the protection officer”.

“Report from the protection officer has to be gathered and it will assist the court for the purposes of meting out complete justice in the matter. At the same time, it is expected that the trial court has to pass an interim order at the earliest,” said Justice Ganoo, adding that such a report is not mandatory in each an every case. “If on the basis of records, the court is in a position to arrive at a just and proper conclusion, it will be open for it to do so and decide the matter accordingly,” said the judge.

The matter before the court concerned a case of domestic violence filed by Seema from Amravati. The trial court asked her husband Vinit to pay monthly maintenance to her and their child. Vinit challenged the order claiming that a report from the protection officer was necessary. The HC did not agree.

Vinit’s lawyers also claimed that he was a contract labourer and barely earns Rs 1,000 per month. Seema’s lawyers, however, said he ran a cement business and owned an STD booth, earning over Rs 25,000 every month. The court said it was difficult to believe Vinit’s claims. “(If he actually earns Rs 1,000 per month), it would be difficult for the applicant himself to sustain on day-to-day basis and it has not been stated whether he seeks assistance of some other person to make both ends meet.”’


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