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New SC Judgement On Domestic Violence Act Allows Estranged Women To Live With In-Laws

Posted: October 16, 2020

The Supreme Court reversed its 2006 verdict and now guarantees a woman Right To Resident. A step in the right direction?

On Thursday, in a landmark judgment regarding the Domestic Violence Act 2005, the Supreme Court reversed its 2006 verdict in the favour of women. It now guarantees her Right to Residence. The court has expanded the term shared properties in the Act.

In the Tarun Batra case the court had earlier defined a shared household as any property owned by the husband’s joint family or any property in which the husband had a share. The new judgment grants the Right of Residence to the aggrieved in the household where she singly or jointly lived or is living at any point of her relationship.

Domestic violence in India

Domestic violence in India is one of the most underreported and common crimes. And it has been brought to light by various stories, TV soaps and movies. It has become so ingrained in the society often, it is not even considered as a crime.

The Court, while delivering its judgment, said that the progress of a society can be measured by the progress of its women. Moreover, the constitution while guaranteeing similar rights to men and women embarked on this journey of progress.

Domestic violence in India has been a burning social issue since forever. Especially in 2005, when the Domestic Violence Act was passed. And it continues to be a significant social issue even today.

It has lead to various positive changes but hasn’t been able to wipe out domestic violence per say. The social perception and regressive mindsets in various households have defeated the purpose of the Act and women continue to fall prey to domestic violence.

Has the DV Act changed anything?

The spread of domestic violence reflects a patriarchal society engrossed with power and domination. This crime is a way to assert power over women and is used as a constant reminder of the secondary position.

It is an instrument of the patriarchal society to exert power over women to keep her in subjugation and fear. Women are kept under constant fear of physical harm due to which they are unable to make choices or decisions. To stunt a woman’s freedom is exactly what the abuser aims to do.

It would be unfair to say that the Act has not resulted in any positive change but cases of domestic violence still rock many households. And even in privileged and educated households, domestic violence is common.

One of the main reasons behind such behavior is the treatment of women as property and constant reiteration of ownership on the property. In addition to that, economic dependence on husbands acts as a barrier to report various atrocities.

The social system treats the husband at a divine authority and any deviance is severely dissuaded. In such a scenario, social and economic factors save the perpetrators of domestic violence.

The judgment would bring a positive change

As the social and economic factors dissuade women to report domestic violence, it encourages men to perpetrate violence on women. In India, once a woman is married, returning back to her parents home becomes impossible, thus, making tolerating violence the only viable option.

However with this judgment, women will now have economic support. This will enable them to lodge complains and raise their voices against domestic abuse and violence.

The judgment provides the aggrieved Right to Residence which will provide an impetus to women raising cudgels against gender violence. It will induce positive changes and will aid the delivery of justice to women.

Picture credits: Photo by Qazi Ikram Ul Haq from Pexels

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Political Science Research Scholar. Doesn't believe in binaries and essentialism.

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