In India, women are facing different marital problems like dowry death, domestic violence, sexual offenses, outraging modesty etc. The conduct of a person in the marital relationship or in the family by acting cruelly, physical attack or abusing the spouse in any manner is said to be domestic violence. Many cases of domestic violence are reported in India and some of them have shown the way for suicide of the women. The offense of domestic violence was made punishable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, but this could not achieve the target of the authorities, but the violence increased against women taking their lives.
To overcome the drawbacks, the Central Government enacted the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which aimed at an effectual mechanism for safeguarding the constitutional rights and privileges of women who are sufferers of family violence and cruelty and other issues connected with women. The Act exclusively grants protection to women against violence in family or marital relationship.
The Act under Section 3 defines ‘domestic violence’ which refers to any act harmful or injurious to women which endangers or abuses her mentally or physically, forces her to perform any unlawful requirement including dowry, threatens the person or relative of the women by any manner and other acts prescribed under the Act. An overview of the situations and statement of facts are essential before considering the case of domestic violence. The Act entrusts the duty on the public to inform the Protection Officer regarding any problem of domestic violence which has happened or likely to happen and such person giving information shall not be legally liable for such intimation. The authority who have received the information or was present at the place of incidence shall inform the women regarding her legal rights and services available and her right to lodge a complaint under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. The concerned authorities shall make available to the women shelter under the shelter home by informing the situation to the officer in charge of the shelter home.
The State Governments shall appoint qualified and experienced persons as protection officers, preferably women in each district for exercising the powers and functions as prescribed under the Act. The protection officer shall help the magistrate in discharging his functions, to report the incident of domestic violence to the magistrate and service providers, to submit an application for relief order on behalf of the aggrieved person, to guarantee free legal aid to the women, to arrange shelter home, to conduct medical examination of the women etc. The Act provides for registration of the service providers which shall be an organization, association, or a company interested or conducts activities for the emancipation of women providing them any medical, financial or other services by legal means. The service provider shall record the incidents of domestic violence and present a copy to the magistrate; conduct the medical examination of the women and submit the medical report to the magistrate and concerned protection officer; assist the aggrieved person in getting proper shelter home if necessary. The Act entrusts duty on the Central and State Governments to take steps to give media hype to the provisions of the legislation, conduct training for the government officials to spread awareness regarding the issues highlighted by the Act and enhance the coordinated efforts of the ministry and concerned departments to deal with issues connected therewith.
The Act grants right to the aggrieved women or protection officer to lodge complaint asking for reliefs specified under the present legislation. The magistrate shall after hearing both the parties make a protection order forbidding the respondent from performing and assisting the act of domestic violence and such orders as the magistrate deems necessary. The magistrate shall also grant monetary reliefs to the aggrieved person for the losses undergone in consequence of domestic violence. The aggrieved party shall prefer an appeal to the Sessions Court within a period of thirty days. To implement the provisions of the Act and to serve the purpose of the enactment, Central Government is entrusted to formulate rules in the specified areas.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 contains elaborate provisions for the protection of women from family violence and marital cruelty and abuse. But the Act is criticized on the ground that the Act is being misused by women to take revenge of their husband and other members of marital home. Moreover the respondents in most of the cases are women themselves. The Act also lacks appropriate implementation from the bottom level and reasonable invocation of the provisions legally.