No relief for wife under Domestic Violence Act, unless in 'relationship': High Court

Domestic violence
In a significant order, the Bombay High Court has held that a wife can file an application for specific reliefs under the Domestic Violence Act only while remaining in a domestic relationship.

However, if living separately from husband for quite some time, she cannot be said to be in domestic relationship and, therefore, cannot file such application under the Act, Justice Roshan Dalvi ruled while rejecting a petition filed by a woman who left her husband and two children in the US and returned to India.

The High Court also upheld the order of a lower court which had ruled that the petitioner's application under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act was not maintainable.

"The application under Domestic Violence Act could be filed when the marriage union subsisted. That having come to an end and long after the physical relationship came to an end, she having returned to India, she cannot be taken to be living in any domestic relationship in India," the judge observed in a recent order.

The petitioner married on May 4, 1999 and lived with her husband in the US. They had two issues. She returned to India on February 11, 2009 and, a year later, filed an application under Domestic Violence Act in a sessions Court.

The High Court upheld the ruling of the sessions court that no domestic relationship existed between the husband and wife when she filed the petition seeking redress under the Act.

A wife who lived in a domestic relationship earlier, but which ceases only because of any domestic violence, can file an application for domestic violence that took place whilst she lived in that relationship, the High Court said.

However, such application is required to be filed within a reasonable time to show that relationship would give her the cause of action to sue under the DV Act for the reliefs under the Act, it said.

"In this case, the wife returned to India and stayed in the country for one year leaving behind her husband and two children in USA. Thus she cannot be said to be in domestic relationship with her husband and family in India," the court ruled and rejected the petition.

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