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Domestic Violence Act focuses on providing immediate relief to victims through maintenance.

Updated: Jan 3

Delhi High Court: In a petition filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) seeking to quash the summon order dated 12-03-2019 passed under Section 31(1) of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (‘DV Act’) for non-compliance of interim maintenance, Swarana Kanta Sharma, J.*, opined that the aim of the DV Act was to provide for protection, rehabilitation and upliftment of victims of domestic violence, in contrast to sending the aggressor to prisons. Therefore, the Court opined that a person could not be summoned under Section 31 of the DV Act for non-compliance of monetary order passed under Section 20 of the DV Act and quashed the impugned order dated 12-03-2019.

Background

In an instant case, the marriage between the petitioner-husband and the respondent-wife was solemnized on 30-04-2015. Subsequently, on a complaint by the wife, the FIR was registered under Section 498-A, 323 and 504 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

Further, the wife had filed an application under Section 12 of the DV Act, and also filed an application for interim maintenance under Section 23 of the DV Act. The Judicial Magistrate vide order dated 10-05-2018 directed the husband to pay interim maintenance of Rs. 35,000 to the wife. Subsequently, the order was modified and vide order dated 01-02-2019, the husband was directed to pay Rs. 45,000 to the wife and Rs. 55,000 per month to the daughter. Subsequently, the wife filed an application under Section 31(1) of the DV Act against the husband for non-compliance of order dated 01-02-2019 for non-payment of interim maintenance and summons were issued vide impugned order dated 12-03-2019. However, the husband challenged the summons under Section 482 of the CrPC and the summons were stayed.

Further, the application was withdrawn under Section 482 of the CrPC from the Allahabad High Court pursuant to transfer of cases from Uttar Pradesh to Delhi and thus, the husband had approached the present court assailing the order dated 12-03-2019 passed under Section 31(1) of the DV Act. The husband stated that since the wife’s grievance was that the order granting interim maintenance under Section 20 of the DV Act read with Section 23 of the DV Act was not being complied with, the husband could not be summoned under Section 31 of the DV Act as the said provision only governed cases of breach of protection or interim protection order, and the same does not cover monetary reliefs under its ambit.

Analysis, Law, and Decision

The Court opined that in the present case due to transfer of cases from one State to another, a pending application under Section 482 of CrPC became infructuous and was withdrawn from one High Court and was immediately thereafter filed before the present Court, therefore the present petition was maintainable.

The Court noted that in the present case, vide impugned order 12-03-2019, the husband was summoned as accused under Section 31(1) of the DV Act pursuant to a compliant filed by the wife whereby she alleged that despite their being orders of the Magistrate and Sessions Court granting her an interim maintenance, the husband had failed to comply with the same and thus he was liable to be summoned and punished under Section 31(1) of the DV Act and further under Section 498-A of the IPC.

The Court opined that as per statutory framework of the DV Act, the order which granted maintenance or interim maintenance under Section 20 of the DV Act as monetary relief to the aggrieved women would have to be enforced in the manner as provided under Section 20(6) of the DV Act or otherwise as per provisions as per the provisions of CrPC including manner of enforcement of orders passed under Section 125 of the CrPC.

The Court relied on Velayudhan Nair v. Karthiayani, 2012 SCC OnLine Ker 6976; Kanaka Raj v. State of Kerala, 2009 SCC OnLine Ker 2822; Kanchan v. Vikramjeet Setiya, 2012 SCC OnLine Raj 3614; Francis Cyril C. Cunha v. Smt. Lydia Jane D. Cunha, 2015 SCC OnLine Kar 8760; Manoj Anand v. State of U.P., 2012 SCC OnLine All 308; S. Jeeva Ashok v. Kalarani, 2015 SCC OnLine Mad 3719; Suneesh v. State of Kerala, 2012 SCC OnLine Ker 1934 wherein it was held that Section 31 of the DV Act could not be invoked for breach of order which granted maintenance and opined that opined that Section 31 of the DV Act exclusively dealt with breach of ‘protection order’ or ‘interim protection order’ and an order granting maintenance in an application filed under Section 12 of the DV Act, which was an order passed under Section 20 of the DV Act, could not be interpreted to fell within the ambit of term ‘protection order’ as used in Section 31 of the DV Act.

The Court further opined that “the scheme of DV Act envisages different categories of reliefs and orders, as discussed previously, and the term ‘protection order’ has been specifically defined in Section 2(o) and its scope in Section 18, whereas monetary relief has been defined under Section 2(k) and its scope in Section 20, which is distinct in nature. Therefore, while deciding the issue in question, this Court has kept in consideration the intent of the legislature behind legislating separate provisions for different reliefs under the DV Act.”

The Court opined that while deciding issues related to the interpretation of provisions of the DV Act, it was important to carefully analyse and examine the aims and objects which were sought to be achieved through the enactment of the DV Act. The legislature realised that while criminal recourse was available for women facing domestic violence in matrimonial settings, as provided under Section 498 of the IPC, it would lead to the punishment of the accused without any immediate remedies for the woman’s specific needs and livelihood challenges.

The Court opined that in response to this gap in legal provisions, the DV Act was enacted to offer certain civil remedies to the victims of domestic violence and these remedies encompassed an array of protective measures, residence orders, and monetary reliefs, designed to address the multifaceted nature of abuse. Therefore, the aim of the DV Act was to provide protection, rehabilitation and upliftment of victims of domestic violence, in contrast to sending the aggressor to prisons. The Court opined that it could be concluded that the focus of the DV Act was on providing immediate and effective relief to victims of domestic violence by way of maintenance or interim maintenance orders, and the idea was not to immediately initiate criminal proceedings against the person for non-payment of maintenance.

The Court opined that the person could not be summoned under Section 31 of the DV Act for non-compliance of monetary order for payment of maintenance passed under Section 20 of the DV Act. Thus, the petitioner could not be summoned as an accused under Section 31 of the DV Act and quashed the impugned order dated 12-03-2019.

[Anish Pramod Patel v. Kiran Jyot Maini, CRL.M.C. 1951 of 2023, decided on 01-12-2023]

*Judgment authored by- Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the Petitioner: Prabhjit Jauhar, Gautam Panjwani, Neeraj Jain and Himanshi Nagpal, Advocates;

For the Respondent: Gaurav Bhatia, Senior Advocate with Utkarsh Jaiswal, Vikas Tiwari, Shubhangi Negi and Pawan Shree Agrawal, Advocates. Source: SCC Online. #SairamLawAssociates | #LegalServices | #LegalAdvice | #FamilyLaw | #RealEstateLaw | | #Divorce | #ChildCustody | #DomesticViolence | #RCR | #Alimony | #Maintenance | #DowryHarassment | #Registrations | #BailMatters | #DocumentsVerification | #DVAct | #MarriageRegistrations | #RegisterAMarriage | #KhataTransfers

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