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In a ground-breaking ruling, Supreme Court recently held up a decision by the Rajasthan High Court, which enabled a woman to file a domestic violence complaint even if she is divorced.
Domestic abuse is one of the most hidden forms of violence against women. In our country, it is often treated as a matter between husband and wife that should be resolved internally. Many a times, women suffer this abuse silently, out of shame or owing to the fear of society’s judgemental eyes.
However, law has finally taken a strong stand against this crime, in a recent court case. Supreme court has supported an order given by Rajasthan high court that says – the absence of an ongoing domestic relationship does not stop a court from granting relief to an aggrieved woman.
Hence, a woman can lodge a complaint under the domestic violence law against her husband even after their divorce or separation. This order was passed in a marital dispute matter. The husband appealed to the Supreme Court, but this judgement was withheld by them as well.
The appeal said that if the domestic violence law which came in to force on October 2006, was allowed to be applied retrospectively then it could be misused. Most times, the end of a marriage is hostile and the law could act as a weapon in the wife’s hand to exact revenge.
However, the court refused the appeal and said, “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 high court also said that even after the termination of marriage, if an ex-husband attempts an act of violence such as stalking the wife, trying to intimidate her or threaten her or her family members, then the wife can seek protection from the law. She can also approach the court if the husband tries to wrongfully dispossess her from the shared household or property jointly owned.
This order should act as a flag bearer for all domestic violence cases. Many times, even after a divorce, the wife is being abused by the husband and his family. Earlier, it was assumed that since the marriage was annulled, a woman could not resort to the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act of 2006. But, now with this ruling, if a woman is being harassed by her ex-husband and his family, she can still lodge a complaint.
Domestic violence whether physical, sexual or emotional needs to be treated seriously. Women should come forward to report this crime and put an end to it. After all, tomorrow it could be the next generation to suffer.
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