The power dynamics of a household has been traditionally in the favor of men, since civilization first started to take shape. This phenomena leading to the subordinate postion of women in the domestic household has led up to their abuse as well, both mental and physical.
Domestic violence is an ever increasing pressing issue in today’s world. An observation made by WHO states that almost 1 out of 3 women who have been in a relationship have faced some kind of violence by the hands of their partners, either sexual or physical.
Rather, the phenomena of domestic violence has been considered a norm for so long that it’s a positive sign that we get to have a systematic approach towards the issue through the definitions provided by penal laws of the different countries. Talking about this social standing in our own country, the problem with domestic violence for many years has been that it wasn’t recognised as a crime, atleast not in the eyes of the society. It was considered ‘okay’ or even ‘rightful’ for men to beat up the women, living in the same domestic setting. The major contributing factors being the patriarchal mindset to dominate the women in the household , and an innate desire to control them.
It is because of this reason that only after following controversies, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 came into being not long ago. A separate statute was required for the protection of women, the reasons can be outlined in the statics; one National Family Health Survey report(1) suggests every third woman has been subjected to domestic violence since the age of 15, either physical or emotional. The survey was taken in 2018, thirteen years after the statute came into effect. This gives a reality check that how the problem doesn’t seem to diminish.
In such scenarios the judicial pronouncements come as a cool breeze to the aggrieved women preventing any abuse of procedure which they might have or had subjected too.
Some important observations can be considered made by our judiciary. One important pronouncement of this year Shyamlal Devda v Parimala(2), has clarified regarding the jurisdiction of courts in such cases. Reading down section 27 of the Act,2005 the court in the present case stated a woman who was living with her parents; the juridical court of the area enjoys the jurisdiction in such cases, the pronouncement legitly prevented the obligation of filing the case under the jurisdiction where the matrimonial home is situated. An important pronouncement of Saraswati v Babu(3), recognised the changing dynamics of modern day violence by clarifying upon the term “economic abuse” as a form of violence which is, prohibiting or restricting to continued access of resources which is entitled in lieu of shared household. Another pronouncement Lalita Toppo v State of Jharkhand and Others(4), is crucial in the sense as it elaborated the scope of “aggrieved party” including those who do not qualify for maintenance U/S 125 CrPC, aka not the legally wedded wife.
Thus we see that though the problem of domestic violence seems to prevail due to the staunchly embedded sociological norms; the judiciary has played the role of a rescuer to prevent the abuse of procedure and impart justice correctly.
1. Published on News18, dated Fabruary 8, 2018.
2. (2020) 3 SCC 14.
3. (2014) 3 SCC 712.
4. (2019) 13 SCC 796
Author - Pragati Gupta
Student of Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.