‘Accused in domestic violence case must be present in court’

The Judicial Magistrate First Class-Pune (JMFC) R V Wanawadi recently dismissed a husband's plea to be represented by his power of attorney in a domestic violence case filed by his wife. The court held that in such cases, the respondent must be present in person in the court.

The case dates back to 2004 when Madhuri was married to Nikhil (names changed) in Belgaum. After marriage, they stayed together in Belgaum and then shifted to Pune. Later, as a result of some differences of opinion, Nikhil went to Dubai without informing Madhuri. "He has been there for the last 15 months," Madhuri's counsel Advocate Asim Sarode said.

As per Madhuri's complaint, Nikhil's parents started harassing her. Nikhil didn't even turn up to see their new born child. "I had been trying to serve him the notice for almost a year and was successful only in March 2009 when the notice was sent to the Consulate General India desk in Dubai," Maduri said. It was in reply to this notice that Nikhil requested to be represented by a power of attorney.

Nikhil's counsel argued that acts like the Hindu Marriage Act, the Family court Act allows parties to be represented by a power of attorney.

The same logic should be applicable to a case of domestic violence.

On the other hand, Madhuri's counsel advocate Asim Sarode argued that the nature of allegations in domestic violence cases is very personal.

"The person involved in the dispute should be present during the court proceedings and not the power of attorney," Sarode argued. Also, the accused is expected to be present in person for counseling in domestic violence cases.

The court order stated, "The appearance of the opponent (Nikhil) through power of attorney holders is not permissible and will frustrate the intention of the legislature in broader perspective."

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