SC widens ambit of Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The Supreme Court in its landmark judgement has widened the scope of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 by making it gender-neutral.
The SC ordered deletion of the words “adult male” before the word ‘person’ in Section 2(q) of the Act making it gender-neutral. The remaining part of the legislation would remain operative and was kept untouched.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 protects women from physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse at home.
Key Facts

  • The SC order paves way for prosecution of women and even non-adults for subjecting a woman relative to violence and harassment.
  • It strikes down two words from Section 2(q) of Act which deals with respondents who can be sued and prosecuted under it for harassing a married woman in her matrimonial home.
  • It also allows a woman to seek legal action against her daughter-in-law and even her minor grandchildren for domestic violence.

Why SC ordered to delete words?
According to SC, microscopic difference between male and female, adult and non-adult is neither real nor substantial. It also does not have any rational relation to the object of the legislation. The words “adult male” also violated right to equality under Constitution. It is contrary to object of affording protection to women who have suffered from domestic violence of any kind.
The landmark verdict of Supreme Court came on an appeal against the Bombay High Court judgement, which had resorted to the literal construction of the term ‘adult male’. Based on literal construction of these words, Bombay High Court had discharged four persons, including a woman, two girls and a minor boy of a family from a domestic violence case on the ground that they were not “adult male” and hence cannot be prosecuted under the Act.



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