A Handbook on the Domestic Violence Act

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GK contributer Sanya Samtani, as part of her internship at SICHREM, Bangalore has prepared this handbook. Remember, that this handbook doesn’t involve any critical analysis of the allegedly draconian provisions of the law. Happy learning!

CHAPTER – 1

INTRODUCTION

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Who is the Act for? Who is the victim?

The act is designed for all women and children: sisters, widows, mothers, single women, those living with the abuser etc. (Section 2(a))

Domestic violence occurs between two people living in a Shared Household, when either they are related by blood, marriage or through a relationship in the nature of adoption or are members of a joint family.

What is Domestic Violence?

Any acts of abuse or threats of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic that harm or

Injure are seen as “domestic violence”.

Domestic violence often refers to violence between spouses, or spousal abuse but can also

Include cohabitants and non-married intimate partners. (Section 3)

Types of abuse (violence)

  • physical abuse,
  • sexual abuse,
  • verbal and emotional abuse, and
  • economic abuse.

What is physical abuse?

Any act that causes pain, harm or danger to life or health, including assault (attack) and

force. (Section 3(i))

 

What is sexual abuse?

Any conduct of sexual nature that humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of a woman. (Section 3(ii))

What is verbal and emotional abuse?

Includes insults, calling names, laughing at, humiliation, threats to cause physical pain

(Section 3(iii) (a), (b))

 

What is economic abuse?

Taking away any property that the victim used to share with the abuser. It also includes

restricting the victim from access to the shared household. (Section 3 (iv) (a), (b), (c))

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

DEFINITIONS

 

The act to protect women from domestic violence was enacted on October 26,

2005. It extends to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir

 

What is domestic violence?

 

Any act or omission that, in effect, hurts or degrades the woman or takes away her ability to control or contact an another individual is domestic violence. It includes actual abuse and threats of abuse.

Types of cruelty dealt with by this law:

 

  • Conduct that is likely to drive a woman to suicide,
  • Conduct which is likely to cause grave in jury to the life, limb or health of a woman,
  • Harassment with the purpose of forcing a woman, (or her relatives) to give some property and
    • Harassment because a woman (or her relatives) is unable to yield to demands for more money or does not give some property.

 

How can the law help?

The law ensures that when a woman lodges a complaint she cannot be harassed for doing so. While awaiting the outcome of a case, the accused abuser (husband or partner) cannot restrict the victim.

How to lodge a complaint?

 

There is no requirement for any kind of evidence under this civil law of domestic violence. A mere statement by the woman that she is aggrieved by the abuser is enough for the

Magistrate to pass the orders required to prevent violence and protect the woman. It is the duty of the Protection Officer to act as a link between the woman and the Magistrate. The

Protection Officer may submit a report if required by the Magistrate giving information about the details of the domestic violence.

 

I Why do we need legislation for domestic violence?

Women are victims of grave violence in the household but our present legislation is insufficient to deal with this situation. Therefore a comprehensive act is needed to deal with this.

 

CHAPTER – 3

Definitions

Who is an Aggrieved Person?

“Aggrieved person” means any women who, is or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent.

What is a Domestic Relationship?

Domestic Relationship means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, whether they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.

Who is a Respondent?

Any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved

person and against whom the aggrieved person has filed a petition under the Act. (Section 2(q)).

Who is a Protection Officer?

The Protection Officer (PO)may be from the government or from an NGO, but should preferably be a woman (section 8, {clauses (1, 2)}. While acting in pursuance of any provisions of the act or orders issued under it, she will be considered a Public servant {section 30}. She should have at least three years of experience in the social sector and be appointed for a minimum three years [Rule3 (1, 2, 3)]

According to the Act, POs could be any one of the following:

1. Officer of the State Govt not below the rank of a Deputy Tehsildar or Block Development Officer

2. Representative of NGO

3. Representative of Any registered Service Provider

In our opinion, under no circumstances should the Govt. impose the Protection Officer’s role on existing Governemnt functionaries who are already over burdened with many roles and duties. This also means that if the Govt. sincerely intends to reach out to the victims of violence through the Domestic Violence Act, there must be adequate budgetary allocations and the necessary infrastructure for carrying out of the provisions of the law.

The Protection Officer should be a State Government appointed officer, who helps the victim with legal and technical problems such as shelter, medical help and examination. (Section 8(1))

 

Who is a Service Provider?

 

A victim of domestic violence may require various services: housing and safe accommodations, child care, medical help and access to police, legal aid or lawyer besides other community services. The act envisages a network of agencies like Protection Officers, Service Providers, safe THIS SENTENCE NEED TO BE FINISHED

Any person, who has reason to believe that an act of domestic violence has been or is being or is likely to be committed, may give information about it to the concerned Protection Officer

What is a Shared Household?

A household where the aggrieved person lives, or at any stage has lived, in a Domestic Relationship either singly or along with the respondent.

What is a Shelter Home?

“Shelter home” means any shelter home as may be notified by the state government to be a shelter home for the purpose of this act. A place that provides shelter to the aggrieved person.

 

CHAPTER – 4

DUTIES AND POWERS OF GOVERNMENT, POLICE OFFICERS, PROTECTION OFFICERS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

 

Duties of police officers

 

A police officer, Protection Officer, Service Provider or Magistrate who has received a complaint of domestic violence, shall inform the victim of:

  • her right to get relief,
  • the availability of services of Service Providers and Protection Officers, and
  • her right to free legal aid. (Section 5)

 

Duties of Protection Officers

 

The Protection Officer shall:

  • prepare an incident report to the Magistrate in the prescribed form;
  • ensure that the aggrieved person receives free legal aid;
  • make available safe Shelter Homes if needed; and
  • ensure that orders for monetary relief are complied with. (Section 9 )

 

Duties of Government

Both the Central Government and the State Government shall ensure that:

  • The provisions of this Act are given wide publicity through the media.
  • Government officials, police officers and members of the judicial service are given awareness training on the issues addressed by this Act
  • Effective co ordination between various Ministries and Departments dealing with Law, Home affairs including law and order, Health and Human resources to address issues of domestic violence.(section 11)

Powers of Service Providers

Any Service Provider registered under section 10(1) shall have the power to:

  • Record the domestic incident report if the aggrieved person consents and send it to the Magistrate or to the Protection Officer.
  • Get the aggrieved person medically examined and send that report to the Protection Officer and the police station within the local limits.
  • Ensure that the aggrieved erson is provided shelter in a Shelter Home if she requires. (Section 10)

Duties of Shelter Homes

The person in charge of a Shelter Home has a duty to provide shelter for the aggrieved person at her request or that of the Protection Officer or the Service Provider (section 6)

 

Duty of medical facilities

A medical officer has a duty to provide medical facilities to the aggrieved person at her request of the Aggrieved Person’s Protection Officer or the Service Provider.( Section 7)

CHAPTER – 5

PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING ORDERS OF RELIEF

 

What are the procedures for obtaining orders of relief?

  • An aggrieved person, Protection Officer or any other person on behalf of the aggrieved person may present an application to the Magistrate seeking relief.
  • The relief may include payment of compensation or damages.
  • The Magistrate shall fix the date of hearing, which shall not ordinarily be beyond three days from the date of receiving the application by the court. (Section 12)

 

Counselling

The Magistrate shall give an opportunity for the Respondent or the Aggrieved Person either

singly or jointly, to undergo counselling with any member of a Service Provider who possesses

such qualifications. (Section 14)

 

CHAPTER – 6

MISCELLANEOUS

What rights of women are recognized by this Act?

  • Right to receive monetary relief for losses incurred as result of domestic violence.
  • Right to reside in the Shared Household with her husband or a partner even when a dispute is ongoing.
  • If an abused woman requires she has to be provided with alternate accommodation.
  • A woman who is the victim of domestic violence will have the right to the services of the police, Shelter Homes and medical establishments.
  • A woman cannot be stopped from making a complaint or application alleging domestic violence.

Other aspects of the Act

 

  • A breach of a protection order or of an interim protection order by the Respondent shall be an offence under this Act and shall be punishable by imprisonment. (Section 31)
  • If any Protection Officer fails or refuses to discharge their duties as directed by the Magistrate in the protection order, without any sufficient cause, they shall be punished by imprisonment. (Section 33)
  • No suit can be filed against a Protection Officer for failure without previous sanction from the government (Section 35)

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