Method 1 :
Women in India are protected from domestic violence under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA).This is a civil law. With this act, the victim can get legal remedies pertain to civil reliefs such as injunctions, compensation, and monetary relief. There can be no arrests made on a complaint filed under this law. This is a civil law aimed at providing immediate support to women facing domestic violence.
It is different from criminal law, which is directed at providing punishment to perpetrators of violence (those who commit violence) through imprisonment or fines. The advantage of a civil law is that it is victim-oriented and the woman is not dependent on the police to initiate action.
1What does the domestic victim gets under PWDVA -2005?
i. Protection Order [Section 18]- This can also be termed as a “stop violence” order. Through this order, the court can direct the other party to immediately stop the acts of violence. The following incidents can also be prevented through the “Protection Orders”:
- Prohibiting the perpetrator from entering the woman’s place of employment and causing harassment.
- Prohibiting any communication with the woman from the perpetrator.
- Prohibiting any violence being caused to a person related to the woman.
- Prohibiting sale/transfer of property/use of bank accounts/locker by the perpetrator to the woman’s detriment.
ii. Residence Order [Section 19]- A residence order may be passed by the court in cases where the woman apprehends being thrown out of the house (shared household) or in cases where she has been thrown out and wants to return to her house.
- The aim of this order is to ensure that women have a shelter that is safe. In cases where a woman does not feel safe living with the male perpetrator of violence, she can apply for an order seeking his removal from the shared household. or
- else the court can direct the perpetrator to provide alternate accommodation for the woman.
- No orders for removal from a shared household can be obtained against female relatives under the PWDVA.
iii. Monetary relief [Section 20] – This order can be sought to meet any expenses the woman may have incurred as a result of the violence faced.
- This may include payment of medical bills, any loss of belongings, etc.
- Married women or women living in the nature of marriages can also claim maintenance from the husband/ male partner.
- The amount claimed under this provision is to take care of actual expenditure incurred by the woman.
iv. Compensation order [Section 22] – A compensation order can be asked for by the woman for injuries (mental and physical) sustained. This is over and above the actual expenditure that can be obtained by a monetary order explained above.
v. Custody order [Section 21] – A woman can also ask for temporary custody orders for her children.
- This is to prevent the woman from being separated from her children, which itself is a form of emotional abuse and blackmail.
- This order is temporary in nature and does not affect rights under existing laws on custody and guardianship.
vi. Interim / Ex parte order [Section 23] – An interim order can be given by the court at the time the proceedings are initiated under the PWDVA and before a final order is passed.
- This is to ensure that women are not detrimentally affected during the course of the legal proceedings.
- In order to get interim orders, a woman has to show that she has or she is facing violence or fears violence.
- An ex parte order means an order that is passed in the absence of the other party to the dispute. Such orders are interim in nature and passed only if there is an immediate danger to the person making the application or when the other party refuses to appear in court despite prior intimation given by the court.
E.g. Sonakshi has filed an application in court for a “stop violence” order against her brother, Amit who has been beating her. The threat to her life and safety is so severe that she needs an immediate order. The court can then pass an ex parte “stop violence” order against him even without hearing him. The order will be served on him along with the application. He will , of course, have the right to be then heard and ask for the order to be vacated (i.e. direction by the court to bring the order to an end).
2Who can help the woman in getting the reliefs under the Act?
i. Protection Officer (PO) is an outreach officer of the court, who can help a woman in making
complaints, filing an application before the Magistrate for orders, helping her in getting support like medical aid, counseling etc., and making sure that the orders passed by the court are enforced [Section 9 & Rule 8, 10].
E.g. if a woman has been beaten up by her husband and needs to go to a hospital, she can approach the PO to arrange for transportation to the hospital and make sure that she gets proper treatment.
ii. Service Provider is an NGO or other voluntary association registered with state governments. They provide assistance and support to the woman facing domestic violence.
- A woman can go to a registered SP for making a complaint under the Act.
- An SP will assist her by providing legal aid, medical care, counseling or any other support [Section 10].
- Though there will be other unregistered NGOs providing support services to women, but the major difference between the unregistered SPs and registered SPs under the law is that complaints can be lodged only with the registered SPs.
E.g. if a woman has been thrown out of her house and needs shelter, then along with lodging a complaint, the SP will also take her to a shelter home where she can stay temporarily.