Women can file domestic violence complaint even after divorce: SC

May 14, 2018 08:33 IST
Woman is entitled to protection under domestic violence act even after divorce: SC

The Supreme Court of India has held that a woman can lodge a complaint under the domestic violence law against the cruel acts committed by her ex-husband even after the dissolution of marriage.

The ruling was passed by a three-judge bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi, R Banumathi and Navin Sinha. The ruling came on a plea that challenged an order by the Rajasthan High Court.


  • The Rajasthan High Court that had held on October 30, 2013 that the subsistence of marriage or domestic relationship was not a condition precedent for an aggrieved person to invoke the protection orders and other reliefs under the provisions of the Act.
  • The court had stated that if the aggrieved person had been in a domestic relationship at any point of time even prior to coming into the force of the Act and was subjected to domestic violence, the person is entitled to invoke the remedial measures provided under the Act.
  • The court ruled that the absence of a prevailing domestic relationship in no manner prevents a court from granting relief to an aggrieved woman. 
  • The court had passed the order while hearing a matrimonial dispute.

The Case: Key Highlights

With its ruling, the top court upheld the order of the Rajasthan High Court. The judges’ bench dismissed the appeal against the high court verdict, saying it was not inclined to interfere with the order in the facts of the case.

During the hearing, advocate Dushyant Parashar, appearing on behalf of the estranged husband, appealed that the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, which came into force on October 26, 2006, could not be applied retrospectively.

He submitted that if the provisions of the domestic violence law were allowed to be used retrospectively, then it would be subjected to gross misuse.

He also contended that a husband-wife relationship often ends on a bitter note and if the provisions of the act were allowed to be used retrospectively, then it would further increase the animosity and rule out the possibility of any compromise.

He further said that a legislature's purposive interpretation has to be kept in mind while interpreting any provisions of the law.

The bench, however, refused to agree with the contention of the advocate and declined to interfere with the high court order in the facts of the case.

 Women can file domestic violence complaint even after divorce

About Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The act aims to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family.

It was brought into force by the Indian government from October 26, 2006.

The act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of "domestic violence", with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual and economic abuse.

The act extends to the whole of India except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has its own law - Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2010.



Key features of the Act:

The act seeks to cover those women who are or have been in a relationship with the abuser where both parties have lived together in a shared household and are related by blood, marriage or a relationship in the nature of marriage, or adoption.

Even those women who are sisters, widows, mothers, single women, or living with them are entitled to get legal protection under the proposed Act.

'Domestic violence' includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic.

Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives would also be covered under this definition.

The act also provides for the woman’s right to reside in the matrimonial or shared household, whether or not she has any title or rights in the household.

The act empowers the court to pass protection orders that prevent the abuser from aiding or committing an act of domestic violence or any other specified act such as entering a workplace or any other place frequented by the abused, attempting to communicate with the abused, isolating any assets used by both the parties and causing violence to the abused, her relatives and others who provide her assistance from the domestic violence.

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